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ADVENTURES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

SUMMER 2014

4

Great

HIKES/CLIMBS

Kayaking

THE ISLANDS

AMERICAN ALPS Traverse

Plus

Wild RIVERS Running MOUNT BAKER

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM

SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF THE NORTHERN LIGHT


J ust

G 0o it! August 16 & 17, 2014 Hovander park, Ferndale

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Brought to you by Whatcom Events • 360-746-8861 • MudRace@SkitoSea.com Mud Race Graphics provided by ioCreative.com MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

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You’ve never earned your turns like this before. Ski/Sail & Surf/Sail Adventure trips in the Pacific Northwest, B.C. and SE Alaska

SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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SUMMER 2014 in this issue 22

16 days, 120 miles, 60,000 feet of elevation: the American Alps Traverse

PHOTO \ JASON HUMMELL

12

PHOTO \ BRANDY SHREVE

INDOOR FLOW

6 KOMO KULSHAN

19 DAM, THAT’S NICE

Our home mountains

NCI’s Foodshed Initiative

8 NATURAL CONNECTION

Adventures on tall ships

STREAKS OF LIGHT

Meteor showers, summer 2014

The newest adventure race

25 PHOTO GALLERY

18 HIGH SEAS SAILING

Hiking the backcountry ethically

Touring the Skagit dams

24 THE KULSHAN QUEST

33

Four great peaks to hike/climb

10 LEAVE NO TRACE

PHOTO \ AUBREY LAURENCE

SCRAMBLING THE NORTH CASCADES

Burlington’s sick bike park

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30 ROCK CLIMBING WITH KIDS Fun for the whole family

32 SURFING NORTHWEST

Slightly colder than So. Cal.

34 SUMMER GEAR GUIDE

Gear up for the season

36 WILD RIVERS

35

PHOTO \ COURTESY DAN PROBST

THE BIG, BIG, BIG RUN From Bay to Baker ... and back?

46 NEW BREWS

Slake your thirst first

40 WHERE TO EAT 41 WHERE TO STAY 42 EVENTS CALENDAR 48 THE LAST VIEW

38

COASTING WITH THE CURRENT

Kayaking the Lummi, Clark & Orcas islands loop

Rafting outfitters in the NW

37 WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Bikesport expands to Bellingham

44 BLANCHARD MTN PARAGLIDING

PHOTO \ COURTESY DAN PROBST

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

The view is a plus

PHOTO \ TODD ELSWORTH

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


PUBLISHER’S NOTE BY PAT GRUBB

N

ow, that was a strange winter. Ski season started off good, then no snow for what seemed forever, then some snow, and then huge amounts of snow in March. Man, this global warming is messing with our heads. But now it is mid-May, it’s clear and hot outside and we’re told to expect a hot and dry summer. Sounds good to us for all kinds of reasons, some of which you’ll find inside this issue of the Mount Baker Experience. For example, if you’re into surfing, there’s an article on surfing in Washington and B.C. Want to go river rafting? Check out our list of rafting outfitters.

Into hiking? Great – we’ve got stories on the American Alps Traverse and five summit scrambles. Want to leave our world a better place? Learn about Leave No Trace ethics and practices. There’s a new adventure race this summer that you might want to try and an article on ultra runs if you’re ultra ambitious. Rather lay back and gaze at the heavens? There’s a possibility of a new meteor shower in May to go along with the Perseids in August. We suggest some apps to help you find your way around the heavens. By the way, this is our biggest issue yet. For that, we thank our writers and photographers for exciting and interesting content, our advertisers for supporting what we do and our readers for their suggestions, feedback and interest. Have a great summer!

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE PUBLISHERS Patrick Grubb and Louise Mugar EDITOR Ian Ferguson

STAFF WRITERS Ian Ferguson Brandy Shreve PUBLICATION DESIGN Doug De Visser

ADVERTISING DESIGN Ruth Lauman Doug De Visser

ADVERTISING SALES Molly Ernst Judy Fjellman Janet McCall Catherine Darkenwald SALES & EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Kara Furr OFFICE MANAGER Amy Weaver CONTRIBUTORS IN THIS ISSUE: Brad Andrew, Mike Brondi, Carson Artac, Paul Conrad, Chris Duppenthaler, Todd Elsworth, Grant Gunderson, Jessica Haag, Dylan Hallett, Ryan Hasert, Jason Hummel, Aubrey Laurence, Sue Madsen, Jason Martin, Eric Mickelson, John Minier, Brent Molsberry, Stacy Moon, Jefferson L. Morriss, Eric Parker, Daniel Probst, Brandy Shreve, Aneka Singlaub, Cory Tarilton

EMAIL: info@mountbakerexperience.com

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/mtbakerexperience

WEB: www.mountbakerexperience.com

TWITTER: twitter.com/MB_Experience

If you can see Mt. Baker, you’re part of the experience. Mount Baker Experience is a quarterly outdoor recreation guide for and about the Mt. Baker area, published by Point Roberts Press, Inc. and distributed from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. Locally owned, the company also publishes The Northern Light, All Point Bulletin, Pacific Coast Weddings, Waterside and area maps. Vol. XXVIII, No. 3. Printed in Canada. ©2014 POINT ROBERTS PRESS 225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 TEL: 360/332-1777

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SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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KOMO KULSHAN HONORING THE MOUNTAINS WE CALL HOME STORY BY JOHN MINIER

A

s I write these words, a dramatic tragedy is unfolding on Mt. Everest. On April 18, a deadly avalanche swept through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 guides. The deceased were all Sherpa, an ethnic group from the most mountainous regions of Nepal. How this event will ultimately play out is still uncertain, but presently, it seems as though the Sherpa have decided to leave Everest for the 2014 season, to be with their families and pay respect to those who have been lost.

It is important for western expeditions, the government of Nepal and the world to respect and support the Sherpa in their decision. Their culture and even their physiology have been shaped by the high Himalayas, with which they hold a very sacred and spiritual bond. The Khumbu region is their home, and Mt. Everest is not just a mountain to them; it is Sagarmatha: Forehead of the Sky - Mother of the Universe. A sense of place is important to all people, a fact that we are well aware of in the North Cascades. For millennia, many have considered the land between the Salish Sea and the icy mountain crest to our east to be paradise. It is a land of abundance and beauty, carved from fire and ice, and characterized by the overbearing presence of our own special mountain. Mt. Baker is not only the most dominant feature of our landscape; it is also a cultural icon that has shaped countless generations of inhabitants. The operative word is heritage. To the first nations of the Nooksack, Skagit and Lummi, Mt. Baker was known by many different names, all

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

PHOTO \ RYAN HASERT

variations of the term “Komo Kulshan.” Salmon were and still are of great importance, and Komo Kulshan feeds the rivers that feed the salmon that feed the world. This complex relationship between mountains, rivers, salmon and life is sacred, and arguably of much greater importance than any modern meaning we have imparted. However, we must honor Mt. Baker’s recent heritage as well. Since Edmund Coleman’s first ascent in 1868, Mt. Baker has been a venue upon which to challenge ourselves as mountaineers and skiers, as well as celebrate the beauty and grandeur of nature in the raw. This spirit of adventure inspired the Mt. Baker Marathon in 1911. Although America’s first adventure race only lasted three years, its legacy lives on in our modern rendition: Ski to Sea. Efforts are also underway to recreate the original footrace as a modern day ultra-marathon. Recreation on and around Mt. Baker has drawn many to the region, and has contributed greatly to making Bellingham and the North Cascades a desirable place to call home. As the owner of Mt. Baker Mountain Guides, my relationship with the mountain for which I named my business is continually evolving. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in the North Cascades and share Mt. Baker with others. However, I am also aware that we are guests in a special place, and should act as such. We must respect the mountain that has shaped our past and present, and remember those who have come before. Finally, we must continue to write our stories upon the landscape, for it will write its stories upon us.

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The Natural Connection

FOOD PEOPLE ECOSYSTEM in NCI’s Foodshed Initiative BY IAN FERGUSON

PHOTO \ JESSICA HAAG

J

ust as Buddhists seek enlightenment at ancient monasteries high in the Himalayas, northwesterners who want to learn about nature have their own mountain temple. The North Cascades Institute (NCI), nestled among the Picket Range on the shores of Diablo Lake, is a mecca for environmentalists. It’s a place where sustainable approaches are woven into every possible action, from how structures are built to how food scraps are used, and of course, where the food comes from. For head chef and Foodshed Initiative manager Shelby Slater, getting hired at NCI caused a radical shift in his worldview. Originally from Anacortes, Slater is energetic, with a steady gaze and salt-andpepper hair. These days, he is reconnecting people with the earth and creating lifelong stewards of the environment one delicious plate of locally grown food at a time. But he wasn’t always an advocate for sustainable cuisine. For years, Slater worked on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea that was more like a floating factory than the quaint Alaskan trawlers we usually think of. He managed

a kitchen that fed a crew of 165, and four semi-trucks full of industrially manufactured food supplied the vittles for each voyage. “When I got out of fishing, I was kind of looking at how I fit into the world,” Slater said. He was late to the slow-food movement, but when he got the job as head chef at NCI, he caught up fast, teaching himself about a food system that was completely different from the one he was used to. “I started working with local farmers, and it changed my whole perspective on the food industry, human health, the environment – everything,” he said. “When you go from a fishing boat where everyone is there to make money, and you go up to an environmental learning center where people are there striving to change the world, that’s a drastic change, and it’s catching.” More than anything else, NCI is a school. Communications manager Christian Martin describes NCI’s mission as twofold. The first goal is to introduce people to the amazing ecosystem that is the

North Cascades. Scientists and experts give nature walks and lessons on everything from volcanic and glacial geology to birds, bugs, lichens and carnivores. They might teach about how wolves have returned to the ecosystem, grizzly bears may or may not be wandering down from Canada and the wolverine is on the rebound, for example. “It’s an extremely wild place, and it’s right in our backyard,” Martin said. The pivot, and the second goal, is to get people to understand their role in protecting this wild place and others like it. “We want people to understand that it doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the park or the national forest. This natural wonder spreads all the way back into our communities, back into Seattle and Bellingham and Fraser Valley and over into the Methow Valley… We want people to go home feeling that they want to be good stewards of the ecosystem.” NCI accomplishes these goals in a variety of ways. The Mountain School program brings elementary and high school classes to the learning center in North

WITH NORTH CASCADES INSTITUTE Our programs include Natural History Excursions Mountain School • Family Getaways • Group Rentals Graduate M.Ed. Degree • Art and Writing Retreats Base Camp • Skagit Tours • and more!

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM PHOTO \ JESSICA HAAG


Cascades National Park for three- and fiveday programs. A residency in partnership with Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University offers curricula for graduate students seeking a Master of Education in Environmental Education. Field programs, a speaker series and overnight stays for adults and families allow the public to book a stay at the environmental learning center and tag along on a variety of outdoor learning adventures. Instructors are also active throughout Washington, bringing the message home to schools and communities. Food is a major part of that message, and that’s where the term foodshed comes in. Scientists study watersheds to determine what’s going into the water from source to sea. The Foodshed program does the same for NCI’s food system, aiming to provide food that is not only healthy and delicious, but also responsibly sourced. Nearly all of the food served at NCI comes from local farms that make a big effort to go easy on the land. Why the emphasis on local food? Walk through the produce department of most grocery stores and you’ll find apples from New Zealand, asparagus from Chile and carrots from California, even though all of those fruits and vegetables grow just fine here in Washington. It took a lot of fossil fuel to get that produce here. Because of this and other unsustainable farming practices, it is estimated that for every 10 kcal of fossil fuel energy we put into our food system, we get 1 kcal of energy back as food. In addition to being better for the environment, using local food connects NCI with the local community. Slater is on a first-name basis with all the farmers he works with. He vis-

PHOTO \ MIKE BRONDI

its the farms once a month and talks to them every week to see what’s fresh. He makes sure the farms he’s using are in line with the environmental goals of the institute. “I ask a lot of questions,” he said. “How’s their water supply? How’s their runoff? Where are they buying their seeds? How are they treating their animals and farmworkers?” In turn, Slater uses the food he gets as an education piece for the groups that come through the learning center. “The more I look into the world and our impact on it, the more it’s clear that food impacts the world more than anything we do,” he said, and he’s right. A recent National Geographic article stated that agriculture accounts for 40 percent of all global industry, far more than any other human endeavor. Food is a driving factor behind everything from oil

consumption and water use to healthcare and social justice. Slater’s hands-on approach is challenging. He admits that it would be easier and less expensive to truck food from an industrial supplier up to the institute every week. Instead, he travels to local farms on his days off and fills his car with food. Anne Schwartz of Blue Heron Farm hands off a load of produce to her husband, a park ranger, who drops it off in Marblemount. An NCI co-worker brings it the rest of the way. Regular trips with an NCI van pick up whatever else is needed. On top of the logistical challenges of getting the food to the kitchen, Slater and his staff of four to 10 must constantly adapt the menu to what’s available. “I keep a fluid menu, and it’s always based on what’s available that week. It keeps us on

ExpEriEncE the north cascades

our toes and makes us get really creative. It’s lively and fun,” he said. Slater cooks with a light touch to let the flavors of the quality ingredients he uses shine through. He firmly believes that local food, grown without inorganic pesticides, herbicides, carbon-based fertilizers and genetically modified seeds tastes a whole lot better than conventionally produced food. “I’m a very basic cook now, because I don’t have to do anything to cover up these flavors,” he said. “You’re not going to see me using heavy sauces or seasonings, because it takes away from the wonderful food I’m getting. It also takes away from the farmers. They put their lives into this food, and I want to honor that, because all the credit belongs to them.” In between feeding an average of 75 people per day, Slater tries to improve his local sourcing. At times, it can be overwhelming. “I spent three days on napkins, trying to get the most environmentally friendly compostable napkins, trying to figure out where the wood was coming from… I was looking into juice one time for a week, and the oranges were from Chile, the apples were from Argentina. At one point I was like, ‘How can I source all of this stuff?’ But it’s a learning process, just as it is for everyone here.” For Slater, the payoff isn’t just seeing the smiling faces of the people enjoying his food. It’s seeing them make the connection between themselves and the natural world. That connection is the essence of the Foodshed Initiative. “If we can get people talking about food issues and thinking about how their choices impact themselves and the natural world, that’s a big deal,” he said.

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SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS, TAKE ONLY MEMORIES.

BY ANEKA SINGLAUB

LEAVE no TRACE

I win, I win, I win,” announced an elated 14-year-old boy as he scram-

bled up the trail flaunting what looked like a pair of men’s underwear dangling from a stick held in front of him like the Olympic torch. “Oh boy,” I thought to myself. “This is what I get for turning Leave No Trace principles into a competition.” From bear-safe waste containers at our environmental learning center to trash-collecting competitions on our Youth Leadership Adventures courses, Leave No Trace principles form the foundation of our effort to empower life-long environmental stewards at North Cascades Institute, one pair of discarded underwear at a time. Leave No Trace is an ethical framework that teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.

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FOLLOW THE 7 PRINCIPLES OF LEAVE NO TRACE:

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Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Repackage food to minimize waste. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES

Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy. Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent. In pristine areas: Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails. Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.  

DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY

Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND

Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS

Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

RESPECT WILDLIFE

Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER VISITORS

Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock. Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises. The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

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hen freestyle park designer Joseph Prisel dreams, he dreams big. This time around it took 40 semi truckloads of dirt to make his vision of an indoor dirt track come to life in Burlington, and riders across western Washington and British Columbia are reaping the benefits. The Burlington Bike Park opened in December 2013 and has quickly become a favorite destination for those seeking all-weather riding in a region that isn’t inclined to accommodate it. “It’s the only indoor dirt track that we know of,” said employee Casey Jarzombek, who noted that most indoor tracks are made of wood. “It takes a lot of planning and a lot of work to maintain this kind of track, but it accommodates a wide variety of skills and bike styles.” Jarzombek said that the 40,000-square-foot warehouse building was originally slated to be a BMX racetrack, but when that deal fell through, Prisel saw the opportunity to create something with broader appeal and swooped in. Prisel specializes in creating freestyle bike parks that are geared toward the masses and pros alike, and is the mastermind behind The Lumberyard in Portland, The Flow Skatepark in Columbus, as well as many of the features at Ray’s Mountain Bike Parks in Cleveland and Milwaukee. And he builds every jump one by one.

“It’s like a giant puzzle,” Jarzombek said. “There’s a lot of trial and testing on each section of the course before he can move onto building the next jump. He has to make sure it’s not too fast or too slow for riders and that everything flows together.” Prisel spends hours upon hours piling up dirt, shaping it, riding it and then rebuilding it to get exactly the kind of rhythm and ride he’s looking for. “There’s something for everyone here,” Jarzombek said. “We put the jumps in the middle of the park so you can ride the entire course, including the pump track without ever having to cross the jumps. A beginner can come in and learn the basics and experts can come and have their pro videos done here. You make it what you want it to be.” Jarzombek added that the park is family friendly, and they will be expanding it this summer and adding an outdoor course that can be utilized while Prisel is revamping the indoor course. “It’ll be a completely different design in the fall, but in the meantime, we’ll still be open and people can come ride.” The Burlington Bike Park offers rentals, workshops and lessons and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Helmets are required and pads are highly recommended. Riders under 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian before they will be allowed to ride. For more information, visit burlingtonbikepark.com.

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13


SCRAMBLES in the North

CASCADES BY AUBREY LAURENCE

scram•ble: (noun) A mountain climbing route that involves low-level rock climbing. The grade is low enough that ropes are not necessary, but the consequences of falling can be deadly. PHOTO \ ERIC PARKER

NORTH T WIN MT. PUGH

PHOTOS

\ AUBRE

Y LAURE

NCE

B

efore moving to Washington from Colorado in 2010, my wife and I had scrambled on mountains throughout the United States and in many countries, but for some reason we were unaware of what the North Cascades had to offer. Since living here, I have come to greatly appreciate these mountains, as they offer beauty and challenge far beyond what I ever imagined. Below are some favorites that I have discovered thus far. MT. MACFARLANE Shortly after moving to Washington, a friend of ours from Vancouver invited us up to climb Mt. MacFarlane with him. He said it would be a long slog, but it was only “a mere six-er,” so it wouldn’t be too difficult. Five minutes into the hike, I was beginning to wonder if the word difficult meant something different to Canadians. After climbing mercilessly for many miles, we finally broke out of the dense, light-absorbing forest and reached the shores of lower Pierce Lake. It was the first time we got a view of Mt. MacFarlane’s upper reaches, and it still looked impossibly far away. We continued on the trail to the left of the lake, crossing meadows and avalanche paths,

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and found the ledges that traversed up the headwall. After five hours of hard hiking, we finally made it to the turquoise-hued upper Pierce Lake with excellent views. From there, we ascended the defined ridge to Mt. MacFarlane’s summit, staying close to the ridge crest most of the way. The short scrambling sections were only class 2, though I might have gotten slightly off route and made a couple of class 3 moves. Forty-five minutes after leaving upper Pierce Lake, we gained MacFarlane’s summit and relished the jaw-dropping views of Slesse Mountain, the Cheam Range, Chilliwack, the rugged border peaks and countless other mountains in every direction. The views changed my opinion of “mere 6,000-foot mountains.” MT. PUGH I realize how subjective a route’s exposure and class rating can be, but almost every Mt. Pugh route description and trip report I have read has made my heart race and my palms sweat. One guidebook describes it as “extremely difficult and taxing,” and “downright

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

frightening.” Some hikers I once met described it as the scariest hike they had ever done. Even though I feared the mountain somewhat, it intrigued me even more. “You know how everyone interprets mountains differently,” my wife told me. “Let’s just go and check it out for ourselves. If it’s too sketchy, we’ll just turn back.” The hike to Stujack Pass was uneventful, though it took much longer than expected. Above Stujack Pass, things got much more interesting. Even the “easy” sections of trail crossed steep, grassy slopes that dumped over cliffs. When we finally got our first good look at the upper mountain, it was intimidating. I couldn’t believe the route went up that wall of rock. After some fairly easy but exposed hiking along the narrow ridge, we made it to the col just below the class-3 wall. Once we started up the rock, it wasn’t as bad as it looked from below, and the scrambling turned out to be relatively easy class 3. The exposure, however, was a bit insane.

Above that wall, the route eased up a bit, though we still had to contend with cliffy sections of trail and one nasty, pebble-covered slab. Upon reaching the summit, 360-degree views of jagged mountains extended into a serrated horizon. Glacier Peak dominated the east, Sloan Peak captivated us to the south, Three Fingers saluted us from the west and we could even see Mount Rainier in a haze to the southwest. Meanwhile, the North Fork Sauk River glistened a whopping 6,100 feet below us in the valley. It was a long hike back to the car. By the time we made it back down to Stujack Pass and the easier trail, my mind and body were spent. Unfortunately, we still had to descend 3,800 feet back down to the trailhead. But it felt so good to have faced my fear, I really didn’t mind.

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TOMYHOI PEAK Tomyhoi Peak is a grueling mountain to climb. It is brutally long, has lots of elevation gain, features cliff-hugging trails, has routefinding challenges and its summit block requires some dangerously exposed scrambling. On top of all that, it also requires a short glacier traverse. Perhaps there is something wrong with my wife and me, but Tomyhoi piqued our interest, and we finally gave into its allure last summer. At a junction about three miles into the hike, we left the horde of Yellow Aster Butte hikers, descended to the tarns and began climbing north-northwest up the middle of Tomyhoi’s broad slope. As we climbed, amazing views continued to emerge all around. I had to remember to steady myself before admiring the views because many sections of the trail skirted steep scree slopes and sheer cliffs. After hours of hiking along an undulating ridge, we came to an imposing gendarme. This was where we made the short and relatively easy traverse on a glacier. We had to take care, though, as there was a deep moat to our left and a steep and icy slope to our right. We used ice axes for added safety, but did not rope up. Once on dry rock again, we started scrambling in earnest, and it wasn’t long before we got our first look at the 150-foot-tall summit block. It was a menacing sight and it looked impossible to climb. From the col, the scrambling was relatively easy at first, but after passing to the right of the small pinnacle, it became much more difficult

and much more exposed. gully and a quick scramble up a rocky ridge Somewhere in the crux section, I ran into a to the summit. The summit dropped away rock problem that I just couldn’t seem to solve. abruptly on all sides, and it was so small that I had one good handhold and one good foot- there was only enough room for one or two hold, but it wasn’t enough to make the next people at a time. move. Without exposure, I probably could The phenomenal views from the top ofhave popped up without a problem. But there fered an unimaginable amount of eye candy. was a lot of air directly High above the Chillibehind me, so there was wack Valley and less no room for error. than two air miles from With some help the U.S.-Canada border, from my wife, I manit felt like we had frontaged to find a foothold, row seats to Canadian which involved stemBorder Peak, American ming with my left arm, Border Peak, Mt. Larmantling with my right rabee, Mt. Shuksan and arm and hoping to hell Mt. Baker. at least one of my footholds held. Clearly, this is not an easy section NORTH TWIN SISTER for height-challenged Route descriptions climbers. of North Twin Sister’s Just above that secwest ridge route are tion of rock, we emerged vague, but it was clear FOR MORE SCRAMBLES onto a ridge with more to my wife and I that we IN WASHINGTON, exposure. I could feel were off route. Lured by CHECK OUT THIS BOOK BY huge voids on both sides seductive cairns and my PEGGY GOLDMAN. of me, but I kept my atreluctance to follow a MOUNTAINEERSBOOKS.COM tention on the rock. friend’s advice to climb My mind screamed for me to turn around, to the ridge shortly after passing the obelisk, and I even expressed my intention out loud a a distinctive tower of rock, we ended up trafew times. With encouragement from my wife versing too far to the right. When we realized I concentrated deeply and made careful, delib- our mistake, we decided to climb directly up erate moves. By the time I reached the knife- to the ridge instead of backtracking across the edged gable section, I was so focused that the airy ribs of rock and sketchy chutes we had exposure didn’t faze me anymore. just crossed. The final obstacle was an awkward, slightly High up on low-fifth-class rock, with my overhanging ledge about 5 feet tall. Then it was toes gripping a small ledge and my fingertips just a short walk across a steep, scree-filled jammed in a crack, my mind raced and I began to sense fear creeping in. I have experienced this mental battle while

NORTH T WIN

climbing many times before, but this time it was different. Fear and doubt gripped my mind, and I was right at my threshold for unroped climbing. Just to get to this point, we had already walked up logging roads and overgrown trails for more than three hours, so I knew I had to get a grip (no pun intended) before my muscles burned out. Pushing through the fear and suppressing my doubt, I took three deep breaths, refocused my mind on the rock and ignored the air below me. Fortunately, the rock was very grippy and most of it was solid, especially for Washington standards. As I learned, this high-friction rock, called dunite, is only found above the earth’s crust in a handful of places in the world, and the Twin Sisters Range happens to be one of them. After doing lots of zigzagging, we eventually found a way back to the ridge crest. Getting to that point was among the toughest unroped climbing I have ever done. Even though we made it to the ridge, routefinding was still a challenge. When we encountered headwalls, we traversed to the opposite side of the ridge. Whenever possible, we stayed on the ridge crest, crossing some short knife-edges along the way. Almost six hours after leaving our car, we finally gained the summit with a wonderful feeling of freedom and accomplishment. After drinking in the incredible views of Mt. Baker, South Twin Sister and the San Juan Islands poking through a low deck of clouds, we enjoyed the summit all to ourselves for a few more minutes before beginning our long descent. Mentally and physically drained, we made it back down to the car 11 hours after we began.

For details and directions for these scrambles, go to page 42.

MT. MACF ARLANE

NORTH T WIN MT. PUGH

MT. MACFARLANE

SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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PHOTO \ AUBREY LAURENCE


Wilderness FIRST RESPONDER courses

STORY AND PHOTO BY CORY TARILTON

F

our days, 30 miles, and two drainages removed from civilization, your summer backpacking trip in the Olympics comes to a screeching halt. While negotiating a boul-

der field at the headwaters of the Hoh River, one of your two hiking partners slips off a lichen-encrusted boulder and breaks their leg. After helping them back up to a flat spot

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to check them over and rest, your well-trained brain starts racing. Faced with the daunting task of helping your friend hobble the marathon distance to the trailhead or sending the fastest able-bodied hiker down the trail solo, someone needs to take the role of a leader. In a situation like this, would you have the skills and know-how to make the right call? A Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course aims to give some of the appropriate background experience and readiness to act in situations where immediate professional help is not available. The courses are usually 10 days with a mandatory 70-80 hours of class time. Successful completion of the course depends on passing a written and practical exam as well as effective communication and skill use during a capstone “scenario” that deals with an accident requiring triage or multiple victim management. Skills learned during the course range from basic life support to trauma, the onset of sudden illness and the preparation and transportation of injured individuals. Days of instruction are split between classroom-based lectures and

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hands-on training that gives you tangible experience to help speed up decision-making and response time in the event of an accident. Both of these methods of instruction are crucial to dealing with real emergency situations. Topics of instruction include recognizing and dealing with respiratory and circulatory shock, soft tissue damages, bone fractures and joint strains, immobilization of suspected head or spine injury patients and the necessary processes of dealing with evacuating an injured person from a wilderness setting depending on the type of injury. Both are mixed with enough variation to keep the course engaging. Instructors will introduce you to the SOAP note (Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan), a standard method of recording incidents. The subjective part of the note details the patient’s chief complaint as far as onset, location, duration, character in regard to sharp, dull, or throbbing, alleviating of aggravating factors and growth of pain, time span and severity. The objective part of the note is your own assessment of the patient. Things such as vital signs and patient attributes and findings from a physical examination are pertinent to this step. Your assessment of the patient comprises what is likely wrong with them and if there are any changes over time in the sever-

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ity of their complaint. The final step, your plan, details what you will do to help the patient. Classroom applications of skills include splinting exercises, learning how to take life signs and monitor their change, sizing up the scene of an accident, body substance isolation to ensure you stay healthy and knowing the resources needed to deal with the accident. The course includes an American Red Cross CPR certification that is valid for two years. There’s nothing like experiencing the beauty of the outdoors with friends and family, but being prepared for an emergency should be a part of every group’s first aid kit. A WFR course helps you prepare for the worst so you can make the best of your time in the wilderness.

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TALL SHIPS HIGH SEAS SAILING on the tall ships of yore STORY AND PHOTOS BY SUE MADSEN THE LADY WASHINGTON AND HAWAIIAN CHIEFTAIN hen I arrived in Bellingham in the late 1990s as a landlubber from Montana, I was fascinated with all things coastal, including the area’s rich history of discovery and commerce by intrepid adventurers and sailors. Although some historians contend that Spanish explorers arrived in 1640, the first well documented European ships to visit the area were those of George Vancouver’s voyage in 1792. But the grand age of sail is all in the past, right? Or so I thought. That first summer by the bay I was lounging in a deck chair one sunny afternoon when a tremendous “BOOM” rang out across the bay; then another, and another. Cannon fire? I

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leapt from my seat and ran to get the binoculars. I gazed in shock and disbelief as two grand ghosts from the past came into focus, engaged in what appeared to be a full-scale naval battle. The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain sail into Bellingham Bay at least once each summer to offer a full slate of adventure sails, mock battles and tours. The Lady Washington is a traditionally built replica of the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America in 1788. With two square-rigged masts, the brig was used in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie because she has the distinctive, classic look of a tall ship from the 1700s. The Hawaiian Chieftain would also

pass as a ship straight out of the colonial age, but unlike the Lady Washington she is a topsail ketch. Built in Hawaii in 1988 and based on the designs of early colonial coastal trading ships, she has a very shallow draft that allows her to enter small ports. Both these ships offer quick sailing excursions. While the short adventure sails are a fine introduction, those with more time on their hands can sail on port-to-port passages from half a day to more than a week. These transits are far less formal, and are a great way to get a behind-the-scenes look at the life and jobs of a tall ship’s crew. A friend and I sailed on the Lady Washington from Anacortes to Cornet Bay one fine spring day. We shared a breakfast of eggs Benedict in the galley with the youthful crew before the trip got underway, then all hands headed out on deck as we threaded our way between Fidalgo and Guemes islands and out into Rosario Strait. Being the only guests on

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western bluff, and briskly returned the salute. The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will be in Blaine from July 29 to August 3. More information about adventure sails can be found at historicalseaport.org.

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board was a treat, as we had plenty of time to quiz the crew about how the vessel was rigged, try our hand at the wheel and even climb the rigging and help fire the ship’s cannon. Sailing this majestic ship under the Deception Pass Bridge and into the protected waters of Cornet Bay was thrilling. Once inside the bay we were greeted with a salvo of cannon shot from a house high on the

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THE ZODIAC The Zodiac is a 160-foot twomasted schooner that plies the waters of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands from March through November each year. She offers a variety of day sails and longer tours. The winemaker’s dinner cruises around Bellingham Bay are a fine way to wind down a long-summer’s evening. More adventurous souls can book a threeday or eight-day trip to the San Juan Islands or Desolation Sound. For more information, go to schoonerzodiac.com. THE MAPLE LEAF North of the border? Try the Maple Leaf, a 92-foot schooner built in 1904 in Vancouver Shipyard at Coal Harbour. Initially a pleasure yacht, she was converted to a halibut fishing boat during World War I, and was restored in the 1980s. Maple Leaf Adventures offers multiday trips to the Gulf Islands, Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) each summer. For more information, go to mapleleafadventures.com. THE COMMUNITY BOATING CENTER For those who want to learn to handle a sailboat on their own, Bellingham’s Community Boating Center (CBC) is the best deal in town. They offer classes that cover all of the basics, from rigging the sails and getting the boat underway to tacking, jibbing, trimming the sails and docking. After completing the class you’ll be certified to check out a comparable boat from the CBC or any other US Sailing Center. Signing up for an annual pass entitles one to unlimited use of the Center’s Boats when they are not being used for classes. The Community Boating Center is open May through October each year. For more information, go to boatingcenter.org.

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THE GORGE DAM IS ONE OF THREE DAMS ALONG THE UPPER SKAGIT WATERSHED THAT PROVIDE SEATTLE WITH ELECTRICITY.

DAM, That’s nice. BY IAN FERGUSON

J

ames Delmage (J.D.) Ross was one of those legendary men of genious born in the late 19th century whose ideas would prove world-changing. He successfully engineered the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, which included the tallest dam in the world at the time, but an even larger contribution was his belief that power utilities should be owned by municipalities so they could deliver cheap, reliable power for the public good. The city of Seattle still owns and operates the utility, called Seattle City Light, and it provides 20 percent of Seattle’s electricity from three dams on the edge of North Cascades National Park. Tours of the three dams afford visitors a unique glimpse into an historical power plant in a beautiful setting. I went on a rainy day last June. The tours begin in the company

town of Newhalem on Highway 20. From there my group was guided to the uppermost dam at the foot of Ross Lake where North Cascades Institute (NCI) provided lunch. We toured various powerhouses and dams along the way and even took a guided boat ride on Diablo Lake. The fascinating history behind the dams, the majesty of the rugged terrain in which they were built and collaboration with the North Cascades National Park and NCI make the tours offered by Seattle City Light a worthwhile way to spend a day in the mountains. The tours have something for everyone. Mechanically minded folks will enjoy learning about the feats of engineering required to build the dams in the steep Skagit River gorges. Naturalists and gardeners can delight in the botanical gardens along the tour and discussion

PHOTO \ COURTESY SEATTLE CITY LIGHT

of the old-growth forest ecosystem surrounding Diablo Lake. History buffs will love the unique tidbits, including Ross’ whimsical approach to marketing (he imported exotic plants and animals to entice Seattleites to come check it out, and even had a colony of monkeys established on an island on Diablo Lake). Foodies will appreciate the gourmet meal provided at NCI, and environmentalists will enjoy learning about the institute’s mission of stewardship. To me, the most impressive fact of the whole tour is that the dams, although they are approaching a century old, still provide clean, reliable power to nearly a million residents. The project is one of the most environmentally sustainable hydroelectric utilities in the country, because it was built high enough in the Skagit watershed that it doesn’t interrupt any migratory salmon runs.

Had it been a clear day when I visited, the snow-capped peaks surrounding the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project would have undoubtedly taken center stage, but even in the clouds the spectacle of

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massive human works among such imposing geography created an aura of mystique. To see a summer schedule of tours and more information, go to seattle.gov/light/tours/skagit.

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Traversing the

AMERICAN ALPS A PHOTOGRAPHER’S ACCOUNT

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


In June 2013, photographer/backcountry skier Jason Hummel and professional splitboarder Kyle Miller hiked and skied the Cascade Crest from Highway 20 near Ross Lake south to Holden Village, Glacier Peak and out Whitechuck River Road to Darrington. Over 16 days, the duo traveled 120 miles and climbed a total of 60,000 feet on a route first envisioned by late ski pioneer Carl Skoog, who dubbed it the American Alps Traverse. Jason Hummel recorded the trip in words and photographs. The following is a selection of his observations. JUNE 2. PYRAMID GLACIER.

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hen beginning, it is best to start like one jumps into a cold lake or, in our case, a web of forest. Fully committed, we dove headfirst into the leafy waves and rose as fast as we could toward the alpine zone. Somehow a vertical mile of climbing doesn’t ever go as fast as you would like, but when we burst from the greenery, our universe expanded from our feet to the horizon. To the northeast were the massive shoulders of

Jack Mountain. To the northwest were the impregnable walls of the Picket Range. In between and further encompassing us were the mass of peaks that make up the formidable North Cascades. Of the 1,100 glaciers in the contiguous United States, nearly 800 of them are located in the northern reaches of Washington state. It is truly a sight one should witness and experience, especially from a summit. JUNE 9. WHITE ROCK LAKES. I studied my worn and crumpled hand-drawn map from a decade ago. The line curved up the Chikamin Glacier, leading into one of those silent corners of the Cascades that I’d never heard of anyone traveling into, although I’m sure many had. Privileged – that’s how I felt as we climbed beneath the towering shoulders of the immense and breath-stealing Chikamin Glacier. Two thousand feet higher, I stood eyeing the shadows of clouds rolling beneath the north face of Sinister

KYLE MILLER CELEBRATES ON THE SUMMIT OF GLACIER PEAK AFTER HE AND JASON HUMMEL HIKED, SKIED AND SPLITBOARDED THERE FROM HIGHWAY 20, 100 MILES AWAY. PHOTO BY JASON HUMMEL.

SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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START

HIGHWAY 20

SNAPSHOTS OF THE JOURNEY BY JASON HUMMEL

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK

The American Alps Traverse

16 DAYS 120 MILES 60,000’ OF ELEVATION ON SKIS & SPLITBOARD

FINISH

HOLDEN VILLAGE

WHITECHUCK RIVER

GLACIER PEAK

Peak. Years before, Lowell Skoog, his brother Carl – also a photographer – my brother Josh, Jon Mauro and I became the first to ski Sinister. Together and separately the Skoog brothers had pioneered dozens of descents and traverses in these mountains. The first descent of Sinister would be the last time Lowell ever skied with his brother. A few months later, in 2005, Carl tragically fell to his death on Cerro Mercedario in Argentina. Before his passing, back on Sinister Peak, Carl’s exuberance was contagious. Like a star-struck kid, I asked him all I could about photography, and he shared what he knew with a rank amateur. What would I have asked him if I knew it’d be our last conversation? Like me, his tales are told in his images. In the shades and shadows. Between the curves and shoulders of mountains. Within the waves and flow of streams and glaciers. In the moods wrung from darkness and light. Bled at last, in finality, from the reds that crackle on the horizon. We dug out a spot in the snow and pitched our tent at a notch below Gunsight Peak. I set my alarm for 3 a.m. With my camera and tripod, I left the tent. The cold parried with my fingers. Above me the stars were so bright. Stretching my hands out, my palms cupped worlds like water. I felt like some great star-monster. Hanging from the ridge, perched

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

atop boulders, I sat, freezing the seconds. JUNE 12: HOLDEN VILLAGE Above Crown Point Falls, Kyle and I hid our skis and hung our other unnecessary gear from an old snag. The views from our high vantage wiped the tiredness out of our eyes. The excitement was palpable. We were about to detour to Holden Village, where we had food and fresh supplies waiting. As we descended into the valley, the colors and the seasons brightened. At each creek crossing I drank my fill. At each viewpoint I feasted my eyes on the green hills, high peaks and thundering waterfalls. To pass some time, I took a swim at Heart Lake while waiting for Kyle. Neither of us was in a hurry. Our hunger was forgotten. Maybe the mind requires more nourishment than the flesh? Either way, the hike soothed me. Weariness blew off me like the leaves from the vine maples that leaned over the trail. JUNE 14. FORTRESS MOUNTAIN. We descended and stopped, stuck like a nail between Fortress and Chiwawa mountains. My eyes strained. I searched the fog. I didn’t know where to go from here. With only bad options, I chose to take the high route over the summit of Fortress Mountain. It was the most risky of the options, but I was convinced it would go, and Fortress and I had a history. In 2008, mere feet from the summit, an avalanche swept me 1,000 feet down the steep, cliff-riddled flanks. I was lucky to survive. Kyle was doubtful of my route choice and rightfully so, but I didn’t need to remind him of our adventures in Agnes Creek and our descent into that misbegotten hag of a valley to win this argument. A short time later, everything Kyle had feared was staring him in the face. I was only getting more determined. I laughed as I reached up for a rocky handhold. Instead of stone, I found a rappel sling to hang from. Looking down I saw Kyle. He looked up at me and groaned, “How does it look?” Was it crueler to lie or to tell the truth? Leaning towards optimism,

I lied. “It looks way better,” I threw down like a bomb. I lit the fuse. “If we can traverse this rock slope, I think we can get there,” I added. Kyle’s eyes erupted in fire, but he said nothing. He was as determined as I was. To either side of us were longfaced cliffs, looking sad and dejected. I felt the terrible hunger of their yawning mouths and saw their teeth far below. I fed them scraps of stone as I grappled across with my crampons. I crossed ice-layered boulders, pivoted across smooth granite and finally leapt lightly to the snow. Only then did I feel success creeping in. Ten dangerous steps on a porous 60-degree snow slope and I was onto rock again. A few vertical moves and I was there. The clouds melted away, the peaks emerged to look at me and the sun put her lips to mine. I watched my magnified shadow dance on the mist below within a Brocken spectre, a natural phenomenon I’ve only seen three other times. I couldn’t take my eyes off the spectre and its kaleidoscope of colors. They circled as if submerged in oily water. This was among the happiest moments of my life. Only when Kyle squeezed by me did I join him in our march along the narrow ridge. First to the summit, Kyle stopped and raised his hands. He let out the loudest yell I’d ever heard him make. Was he roaring a challenge at Glacier Peak? It was our last great obstacle. I liked to think he was. JUNE 16. GLACIER PEAK. Two hundred feet before the summit, I was on my knees. Kyle was right behind me. We had been going so fast. Too fast. My legs threatened to buckle. Can you believe that? Weeks of touring and I was as strong as I’ve ever been. While mentally I could push on, physically I was at my limit. I had nothing left. Then I heard the buzzing. I knew that sound. Above me the sky had a dark expression. I saw lightening dancing on the peaks in the distance. The buzzing? It was the electricity in the air crackling on my ski edges! Thunder fell onto my ears, shook my soul and excited me. It was like fireworks. It was bombs bursting. It was a celebration. There was no one else but us – just mountain peaks MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


leaning in. Then, like that, we were on the summit. Never had I put so much physical effort into completing a singular goal in my life. I fell to my knees again. I took in those feelings of success. I swam back through the memories. The colors. The blue sky. The blue-eyed lakes reflecting back. The white clouds. The white snow. The yellow sun. The yellow meadows of glacier lilies. The black sky poked through with starlight. The rainbows. The spectrum of memory. The melting pot. The now. The wind stopped. The snow petered out. Then the sunlight slipped out between the fleshy folds of dark thunderheads. I took my camera out. I took a picture of Kyle holding his board in the air. I took a picture of both of us. Then we left.

JUNE 17. WHITECHUCK RIVER. We arrived at the gate and dropped our packs on the other side. The weight of weeks of effort slid from our shoulders. The bugs swarmed. We didn’t care. Looking up into the dark forest where we began our journey 16 days before, I shuddered. There was no color at all; just darkness, in contrast to my memories, which were like a vibrant colorful meadow stretching in all directions. When I looked back down at the black pavement, I closed my eyes. In my head, the sun was setting on a beautiful chapter, but I knew that a new day would rise. Any adventurer knows that life is not measured in weeks, months or even years, but in adventures realized. With that final thought, I grappled with the keys and cranked the ignition, returning down Highway 20, back towards civilization and on to my next adventure.

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his summer, a new race is coming to Bellingham with a course that will be a carefully guarded secret until race day. Half an hour before the starting gun, the course will be revealed. Then, in teams and individually, racers will navigate their way through a number of checkpoints on foot, bike and kayak, but the path they choose will be completely up to them. It’s an adventure race, and it’s called the Kulshan Quest. Adventure races are popular in the east and the southwest, but although our region has a surplus of kayakers, trail runners, mountain bikers and amazing locales for outdoor sports, there are surprisingly few adventure races in Cascadia. An adventure race combines two or more endurance sports with navigation. Individuals and teams race from point A to point B by any route they choose, usually with a map and

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compass. Instead of relaying each section, teams must complete the race as a unit. The most extreme adventure races test the limits of human endurance and can last a week or more. Kulshan Quest is more accessible, with a six-hour division and a 12hour division. Although the course is kept secret, what is known is that the race will begin in the Fairhaven area. There will be kayaking, trail running and mountain biking sections, though not necessarily in that order. Teams will get lost. Fun will be had. Kulshan Quest race director Brent Molsberry got into adventure racing in 2004 when he joined a team for Primal Quest, which was held in the Northwest that year. Racers kayaked from the San Juan Islands to Larrabee State Park, trekked and mountain biked their way into the North Cascades, then kayaked down the Skagit River before paddling back to the San Juans. “It was a pretty amazing experience,” Molsberry said. “We went well beyond where I thought my limits were, and we just kept going. We were all up six days to finish the race and most days we were getting an hour or two of sleep, but we had fun through the entire race.” He was hooked, but when he looked for more adventure races in the area, he couldn’t find any. When a friend named Paul Hopkins approached him about starting an adventure race on San Juan Island, Molsberry signed on without hesitation. He has been directing the

PHOTO \ BRENT MOLSBERRY

BY IAN FERGUSON San Juan Island Quest for six years now, and he’s bringing the race to the mainland this year in the form of the Kulshan Quest. Molsberry plans the course for each race so that the best route from checkpoint to checkpoint isn’t obvious. Knowledge of local trails can be a big advantage. Local knowledge or no, most teams get lost at some point, and some might decide to skip a checkpoint that is too challenging. Molsberrry said that’s ok; adventure racing is less about winning and more about enjoying the adventure. “It’s not really cutthroat. You’re out there to have fun, and so is everybody else,” Molsberry said. The race ends with a barbequestyle after party and awards ceremony, with the cost of food and beer included in the registration fee. For hardcore racers, the Kulshan Quest will serve as the northwest qualifier for the US Adventure Racing Association’s National Championships, which will be held in Maryland October 2-4. Recreation Northwest, the team that brings the Bellingham Traverse to town every September, has partnered with Molsberry to organize the Kulshan Quest and San Juan Island Quest in addition to their Nortwest Traverse Series this summer. The Kulshan Quest will be held June 21 in Fairhaven, and registration is open. To learn more and register for all the races Recreation Northwest offers, go to recreationnorthwest.org.

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360/599-2222 • Fax: 360/599-1389 • maplefuels.com 24

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM PHOTO \ BRENT MOLSBERRY


Above: The North Cascades near Tommyhoi Peak. Photo by Carson Artac. Right: KC Deane drops in on a trail in the Chuckanut Mountains. Photo by Grant Gunderson. Below: Sarah Taylor standup paddles near Lummi Island. Photo by Carson Artac.


Above: Jason Controy on a ride in Whatcom County. Right: . Justin Bartolinin hikes on Chowder Ridge. Below: Chuck Glynn standup paddles on the Nooksack River. Photos by Carson Artac. Facing page top: Exploring under a glacier. Photo by Ryan Hasert. Facing page bottom: Dropping a waterfall on the Olympic Peninsula. Photo by Eric Parker.


Top: Sunrise paddle in Peru. Photo by Eric Parker. Left: Backpacking in the Wind River Range. Photo by Grant Gunderson. Above: KC Deane corners in the Chuckanut Mountains. Photo by Grant Gunderson.


We look forward to seeing you at one of our races this year.

G

ed! k o o H t e

Northwest

Traverse Multi-Sport Series Chinook (solo)

Coho (tandem)

Chum (relay teams)

2014 Northwest Traverse Series

Go it alone, grab a friend or get a team together for the experience of a lifetime. Travel the state, enjoying the people and places to play in Winthrop, Olympia, North Bend and the Grand Finale at Boundary Bay in downtown Bellingham.

Winthrop Traverse

Bellingham

Olympia

Sunday, June 29th

Saturday, July 26th

Kids Traverse

Saturday, June 14th

Traverse

North Bend

Bellingham

Saturday, Sept. 6th

Saturday, Sept. 20th

Traverse

Traverse

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W

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uest Adventure Races

Take your experience to the next level and get your team together for an epic race. 6 and 12 hour races that include Sea Kayaking, Trail Running and Mountain Biking. Finding the best route through the course is up to you. Kulshan Quest Fairhaven, WA Saturday, June 21st San Juan Island Quest Moran State Park, Orcas Island, WA Saturday, September 27th

Recreation Northwest.org

| MOUNT SUMMERthe 2014 BAKER we EXPERIENCE We promote outdoor recreation and bring people together to enjoy, preserve and improve places where play.

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IF A CHILD IS TOO LIGHT TO LOWER, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO ATTACH THE OTHER END OF THE ROPE TO HIS HARNESS AND PULL DOWN TO PROVIDE MORE WEIGHT.

ROCK CLIMBING with kids

STORY AND PHOTOS BY JASON D. MARTIN

“D

addy,” my five-year-old son said. “Can we go to the rock gym today?” “I don’t wanna go to the rock gym,” my six-year-old daughter replied. “I wanna climb outside!” As a mountain guide and a parent, I couldn’t have been happier. My kids were arguing about where to go climbing! By the time our first-born was three months old, she’d visited Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite National Park. They’ve both been brought up to see climbing as a normal and expected part of life. Many children take to climbing like a fish takes to swimming. They

love it. They can’t wait to do it again. They dream about it. And these days, there’s nothing better than getting children outdoors and involved in physical activity. But climbing is dangerous. I advise that those who wish to take children climbing seek out professional instruction first in order to ensure that they are managing a climbing site in a manner that reflects the best practices available. Small children and even some teenagers are not capable of managing their own safety. When you take kids climbing you have to constantly monitor them. Obviously, you want to keep them away from steep or exposed places, but you should also pay attention to what’s above them

(climbers that might drop something on them are bad!). You should also watch where they play while you’re climbing (chasing rattlesnakes is also bad!). It’s important to be strict about where they can and can’t go and what they can and can’t do when they get to the crag. At first glance, rock climbing with kids isn’t that different from rock climbing with adults. You find a climbing site, set up and climb. But while the systems are essentially the same, there are a number of additional considerations. ROCK GYM Perhaps the best way to introduce a child to climbing is through a rock gym. In Bellingham, we have two venues that provide indoor rock climbing and rental climbing equipment: Vital Climbing Gym and the YMCA. Vital is a bouldering gym, which means that the walls are short, the ground is padded, and climbers climb without the use of a rope. The entire focus of a bouldering gym is climbing movement. A bouldering gym is an excellent place for parents without a climbing background to take their kids. A parent can manage the risks that their children take in much the same way that they might manage their child on a playground. There is no mystery about how high you feel your child should go in such an environment. The YMCA provides roped climbing during scheduled periods. Volunteers are often on hand to help kids put on harnesses and to belay them. This is a great place to get the

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MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

kids used to climbing up, hanging on a rope and lowering down before taking them to an outdoor venue. CHILDREN’S EQUIPMENT There are three must-haves in outdoor roped climbing: a harness, a helmet and rock-climbing shoes. A standard harness is designed for teenagers and adults with a welldefined waist. Most small children don’t really have hips; the result is that they could fall out of a standard harness. Small children require a full-body harness with a tie-in point at the chest. Many climbing equipment manufacturers have helmets on the market that were designed to fit kids. Climbing helmets are different from bike helmets in that they were designed for a different type of impact. However, it is not uncommon to see kids climbing in bike helmets, and certainly bike helmets are better than nothing. When I take my children climbing outdoors, they put on their helmets when we get to the crag and they don’t take them off until it’s time to leave. You never know if someone’s going to accidentally drop something from above. Rock-climbing shoes were designed with sticky rubber on the bottom. The rubber helps a climber’s foot stick to small holds. Like everything else in climbing, they can be expensive. It’s also frustrating as a parent to buy a costly pair of shoes only to see your child grow out of them a few months later. For children ages 3-6, you might consider picking up a pair of cheap mesh “water shoes.” Many of these shoes have a supple rubber sole that, while not as sticky as real rock shoes, performs adequately on easy rock climbs. CHOOSING AN APPROPRIATE CRAG The best way to manage risk in

an outdoor setting is to choose the right crag. There are two things that you’re looking for in a good crag: a reasonable staging area and routes that are appropriate for children. The staging area at the base of the crag should be flat and without anything that a kid could fall off. If you can approach the crag from below as opposed to from above, that’s generally better. If you have to approach from above, be sure to avoid exposure on your descent to the base. If the only way to get there is exposed, then consider a different crag. Even if your kid is a rock star in the climbing gym, you should start her out on easy climbs outside before amping up the grade. Look for a crag with routes rated between 5.0 and 5.6 that aren’t too tall. Ideally you should find something that’s less than 50 feet tall and low-angled. If the perfect crag doesn’t exist at your climbing area, don’t fret. You can often set-up a top rope on a big boulder with appropriate “routes” for kids. And even if it is just a boulder, they won’t care; they’ll think they’re on the biggest wall in the world. MANAGING YOUR KID CLIMBER A top rope set-up is the best way to introduce a child to climbing. When a small child is ready to climb for the first time, it’s best to

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have her climb up no more than 8 feet off the ground and then practice lowering. On her second climb, try to have her go a little higher and then lower her to the ground. Continue this until she’s at the top. The reason to do this is twofold. First, the child will get used to the system, understand what she has to do when she’s done, and then lower down without a problem. And second, the child will get to know the holds on the route, and will be able to climb it more confidently on every run. Sometimes a small child is too

light to be lowered in a top rope system. The best way to manage this is to anticipate the problem ahead of time. Tie the other end of the rope to the child’s harness and gently pull down as the child is lowered. This will provide the additional weight needed to get the child to the ground. Some kids might want to hang on the rope and swing. As long as it doesn’t get in anyone else’s way or tie up a route for a long time, let the kids swing and enjoy it. This allows them to get used to the security of

the rope and will give them confidence in the system. As a general rule, small children shouldn’t belay or rappel. There are ways to mitigate the dangers implicit in these activities, but they are beyond the scope of this article. I’ve been climbing since 1992 and I’ve had some great experiences in the mountains. But I’ve never had as much fun or been more inspired than I have with my children in the mountains. There’s something essential and beautiful in sharing your passions with your kids.

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Northwest BY SUE MADSEN

E

m called to cancel our meeting. “Something’s come up,” she said. “Can we reschedule for next week?” I looked out the window noting the downvalley wind, and thought about the big storm out in the Gulf of Alaska forecast to come in two days from now. I knew just what was up. Em’s a surfer, and in the Northwest those rare days when conditions are right need to be seized, work be damned. In our area, the best time to surf is generally winter or early spring, when waters are in the 40 to 50-degree Fahrenheit range. The typical northwest surfer is nothing like those golden girls and boys in skimpy swimsuits on the beaches of Maui. To surf here, one needs to be committed, expert and swathed in neoprene from head to toe. Sound good? You can find good breaks in the northwest straits, but you’ll have to do some exploring on your own. My surfer friends were polite enough not to laugh in my face when I asked about local surf spots, but only just. Nobody’s going to share beta on a favorite break with an amateur, much less a writer who’s planning on publishing the info. Good breaks around here are just too rare, and inexperienced surfers dropping in on someone else’s wave are both unwelcome and dangerous. It’s best to learn to surf at popular beaches on the Pacific coast of Washington or Vancouver Island, where you can develop skills without getting in the way of others. Learn on during the summer when waves are less powerful, said Dennis, who became addicted to the sport in his California childhood, and has surfed our area for decades. Watch experienced surfers, hone your skills on small waves, and slowly get to know more experienced riders. If you do luck into a good break, respect the locals, stay out of the way and make sure they get the waves they want first. Following this unspoken etiquette is the only way to gain acceptance.

A great way to get started is by heading to the surf schools and rental shops in Tofino, B.C. and Westport, Washington. Beaches at LaPush or Hobuck beach in Neah Bay also provide a range of conditions and plenty of room for everybody. Surf shops from Port Angeles or Forks often station a trailer in the beach parking lot where one can rent boards and wetsuits. Start by taking a lesson or two, or learn to drop into waves on your stomach or a boogie board. You’ll need to rent or own a wetsuit; 4/3 is good for the summer (numbers represent thickness in mm on the torso, arms and legs), but you’ll want something heavier for winter (5/4 or even 6/5), plus a neoprene hood, gloves and booties. Don’t go out and buy an expensive board. High-end boards are light and fragile, and one thing is for sure, as a beginner you’ll beat it up. You’ll hit it with elbows and knees, or scrape up the fins by riding all the way to shore. Rent a board from the surf school, or better yet find a buddy who will loan you an old beater molded-plastic model or soft-top. Learn what conditions mean good surf in our area; while wind speed and direction are key, the best times to ride will vary from site to site based on local topography, coast orientation and tides. Once you have some skills, be prepared to drop everything to hustle out as soon as the stars align. I recently watched a surfer catch some waves at Cape Disappointment. His session consisted of two good rides interspersed by a 30-minute battle with the crashing waves to get back outside the impact zone. By the time his buddy showed up a few minutes later the moment was lost; a slight change in tide height skewed the direction of those gorgeous waves. We basked in the spring sun watching the waves slam into the cliff below the lighthouse for a while. Then everybody adjourned to the office, daydreaming about the next big break.

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SUMMER

Night SKIES

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I

n summer, these latitudes are marked by long days and short nights, at least until June 22 when the days begin to grow shorter again. Compared to southern latitudes, we can play all day and much of the evening. But once the sun is good and truly gone, what to do? These warm summer nights are perfect for observing the heavens and especially watching meteor showers. Ever wonder how meteor showers get their name? They are named after the constellation from which they appear to originate. CAMELOPARDALIDS METEOR SHOWER MAY 23/24: Astronomers are excited about the possibility of a new meteor shower this year. Those of us living in Canada and the northern part of the U.S. could be in for one hell of a show. The Camelopardalids meteor shower is predicted for the night of May 23-24. The peak viewing times are projected to be from 11 p.m. on May 23 until 1 a.m. the next morning. While some astronomers are predicting a meteor “storm” of up to 400 meteors per hour, most expect somewhere between 100 and 200. The meteors will appear to radiate from the Camelopardalis constellation which is located in the sky near the Polar star. The meteors that observers will see streaking across the northern sky actually stem from a debris trail left in the 1800s by the Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered in 2004. PERSEIDS METEOR SHOWER AUGUST 10-13: Unfortunately, sky watchers will have to contend with

a waning gibbous moon during the Perseid showers. A waning gibbous moon is anything smaller than a full moon but larger than a half moon. Nevertheless, if you persevere into the early morning hours around dawn, you should still see a worthy display. The great thing about the Perseids is that they appear to come from all points of the sky so you don’t need to know which constellation they radiate from. Okay, seeing as you ask, they appear to originate in the constellation Perseus the Hero which is located in the northern sky east of Andromeda and south of Cassiopeia. Typically, up to 100 meteors an hour streak against the early morning skies. WHERE TO WATCH: Obviously, the further away from city lights, the darker the skies and the better your viewing experience. South of the border, a popular viewing location is Artist’s Point just up the hill from the Mt. Baker ski area. During summer nights, the parking lot is full of the cars and campers of people seeking a clear and dark view of the skies. North of the border, you have to contend with the lights of Vancouver. Nevertheless, Porteau Cove on the Sea to Sky highway is sheltered from city lights as is Wreck Beach at U.B.C. In the valley, people gather at Aldergrove Lake Regional Park and McDonald Park in Abbotsford. Located on Number 3 Road off Highway 1, local astronomers successfully convinced the city council to make McDonald Park into a “dark sky park.”

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By Pat Grubb

SUMMER GEAR GUIDE

MIRA WOMEN’S DOWN SLEEPING BAG (15F/-9C) The ultimate ultra-light three-season women’s bag, the Mira sleeping bag is baffled throughout with a layer of down on the bottom for added comfort. It integrates with the women’s NeoAir Xlite mattress promising a full night’s sleep without rolling off onto cold ground. The bag is specifically cut to female dimensions to eliminate excess space and weight. 750+ fill goose down offers compressible warmth. Weight: 1 lb., 12 oz. ($389)

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An ultralight, weatherproof striker is the perfect solution for lighting canister and white gas stoves. In the rainy Northwest, campers need to be able to reliably light their stoves and fires. Unlike a lighter, neither moisture or pressure affect its performance. You’ll soon be sparking 5,500°F sparks and quickly lighting your stoves. Made by Cascades Design, this strike igniter is good for 3,000 to 12,000 strikes – far more than your average lighter. It also has a built-in bottle opener. ($15.95)

WOMEN’S KANAHA OCEAN SHIRT This hydrophobic women’s shirt repels water and dirt (water/mud beads up and rolls right off), while maintaining breathability for surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, mountain biking or any extreme weather activity where staying dry is paramount. Also includes built-in UPF 40 sun protection. ($90)

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According to Andy Walker at Bikesport Bellingham, the AMT Comp mountain bike is capable of handling everything you’ll find at Galbraith or the North Shore. Made by Jamis, a high-quality, family owned bike company, the AMT Comp is a full-suspension mountain bike with a frame made of triple-butted 7005 aluminum. Other features include Shimano Deore hydraulic disk brakes and derailleur, Crank Brothers handle bar and stem, Fox 34 Float 650B CTD Evolution Series fork and more. Weight: 31.25 lbs. ($3,000)

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THE BIG RUN Bay to Baker. AND BACK?

BY IAN FERGUSON

L

ast August, Daniel Probst ran from Bellingham Bay to the summit of Mt. Baker, a distance of 54 miles and an elevation gain of 10,781 feet. He was the first person ever to do so, and he did it in less than 24 hours. A Whatcom County native, Probst had seen Mt. Baker’s white-domed summit on the horizon his whole life, but had never been to the top. In terms of radical feats of endurance, the run up Mt. Baker was nothing new for him; as an ultra-marathon athlete he had run in 200-mile races over 10,000-foot peaks before. It was, however, a first for Mt. Baker, a first for Probst and a harrowing adventure. The first attempt was a group effort. Four people set out from Cornwall Beach in Bellingham at 1 p.m. on August 6. They ran up and over Mt. Stewart on the east side of Lake Whatcom, ate dinner at the Acme Diner in the South Fork Valley and carried on through the night. They reached the Ridley Creek Trailhead at the foot of Mt. Baker at 6 a.m. The runners of the original Mt. Baker Marathons in 1911-1913 also used the Ridley Creek Trail, running to the summit of Mt. Baker in little more than leather shoes and cotton shorts. It was an amazing feat, but they got most of the way to the mountain in either a car or a steam-powered train. Not so for the group that was now running up the steep trail, 17 hours after leaving the beach. A support van from Kulshan Brewery kept the team hydrated and fed along the way. A second support crew hiked in from Baker Lake to meet them with more food and climbing supplies at Cathedral Camp, 5,000 feet up the south side of Mt. Baker. The runners heard the sound of thunder in the distance as they ran up the Ridley Creek Trail. As they left Cathedral Camp with climbing gear and headed towards Easton Glacier it started to rain. They donned jackets and carried on. The team was in for a shock when they emerged from the trees onto the railroad grade. “All of a sudden we heard a very loud buzz,” Probst said. “Everybody turned around and looked at each other. We realized our ice axes were buzzing like a high-voltage power line.” The electrical charge had twisted mountain guide Krissy Fagan’s hair into a tangle where it touched her ice axe. The team ran back down to Cathedral Camp. While some of the team members slept, Probst and Fagan weighed their options. Over PHOTOS COURTESY OF CASCADE MOUNTAIN RUNNERS

PHOTO \ ERIC PARKER

half an hour, the weather only worsened, and they made the call to head down. Down at the trailhead, the group piled into the Kulshan Brewery van for the drive back to Bellingham. Although they hadn’t gotten to the top, they had proven it was possible to run from Bellingham to the shoulder of Mt. Baker and still feel fresh enough to summit. For one of the team members, Dusty Caseria, the run was his first 50-miler. Most importantly, no one got hurt. But in a bitter twist of irony so often provided by northwest weather, Probst would find himself at a picnic table at Kulshan Brewery later that day, staring at the white summit of Mt. Baker under a clear blue sky. They had run 50 miles, only to turn back before reaching Easton Glacier because of uncertain weather, and now the blue sky seemed to be mocking him. “I couldn’t give up the dream of making it,” Probst said. The second attempt would be a solo effort, because organizing a group takes time and the window of opportunity was growing short. Probst talked with Jason Martin at the American Alpine Institute, who offered to set him up with a guide. A couple of days later, Martin called to say the weather looked good for the next 24 hours. Probst set out solo from Bellingham on August 22 with all the food and water he’d need. He met his guide, Jeremy Devine, at Acme Diner, and Devine drove ahead to the Ridley Creek Trailhead. Probst arrived on foot at the trailhead at 1 a.m., and the pair headed up the mountain. This time, the weather held. The duo roped up and Devine led the way up the Easton Glacier. Just below the summit, they passed and shook hands with Bud Hardwick of the Mount Baker Club on his way down. They reached the top soon after. Probst drank a Kulshan beer and ate a Rocket donut for his sponsors, signed the summit register and snapped some photos. The goal from the start had been a

CHRIS DUPENTHALER

round trip, and now the hard part was over. Or so he thought. Probst and Devine made it back down to the trailhead by 5 p.m. Devine, who had only been hired for the mountain portion, headed out. Probst said he felt great at the time, but soon after Devine left, a severe headache came on. “I needed some aspirin and a hamburger – real food,” Probst said. He had thought he would be able to eat at Acme Diner on his way back, but the diner would be closed in three hours, and he was still 20 miles away. He had no cell phone reception, no support crew in place, and the more he ran the worse his headache got. He started alternating walking and running, and ate everything in his bag: beef jerky, M&Ms and energy bars. The headache persisted. At midnight, 35 hours into his run and far from civilization, Probst felt raindrops. He didn’t have a rain jacket with him. Even though it was a warm August night, the risk of hypothermia was real. He took shelter under a tree by the side of the road, pulled leaves up over his bare legs and slept for seven hours. In the morning, he jogged out to the road and hitchhiked home. He had made it 74 miles on his feet. “I was happy about making it 74 miles and really proud of summiting for the first time. It didn’t sink in until about a week later that I hadn’t accomplished the complete goal of a round trip,” Probst said. As the president of Cascade Mountain Runners, a trail-running club based in Bellingham,

DANIEL PROBST

STACY MOON

Probst has added motivation for completing the run. He thinks the route would be perfect for an ultra-marathon, one that would complement the illustrious history of humanpowered racing in the area (Mt. Baker Marathon, Ski-to-Sea) and attract the best endurance runners from around the world. Thinking beyond racing, Probst sees more and more people combining endurance running and mountaineering, and the route is a prime example of where he sees the sport going. “You can take your experience in races, and with more education in mountaineering and how to be safe in the backcountry, you can go run 20 miles out in the wilderness and get a very real and rewarding experience,” he said. “That’s what I find interesting.” This summer, Probst will try again to complete the round trip. He and at least seven other runners who have signed on so far will leave Bellingham the morning of June 27 and attempt to run from Cornwall Beach to the summit of Mt. Baker and back. Look for an update on their specific plans at cascademountainrunners.org.

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CHRIS DUPENTHALER

DANIEL PROBST

CHRIS DUPENTHALER

SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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Welcome to the

NEIGHBORHOOD BIKESPORT OPENS IN

Bellingham’s Fountain District BY IAN FERGUSON PHOTO \ BRANDY SHREVE

O

n the surface, Bellingham’s newest bike shop has an uphill battle to differentiate itself from the seven or so other bike shops in Bellingham. Dig a little deeper, and it quickly becomes apparent that Bikesport, open since March, has already found its niche in family-friendly customer service. Owned by Andy and Stacy Walker and Scott and Tassie Kowal, Bikesport is a family-run business with a lot going for it. It has a wide selection of road, commuter and mountain bikes for everyone from beginners to passionate enthusiasts. Two in-house mechanics bring years of experience to the service department. Four Bikesport employees are Bikefit certified - trained to adjust every point of contact on your bike to the exact specifications of your body to make riding comfortable. The business also boasts an extensive kids section and a complete in-house triathlon shop that comes with the expertise of Maureen “Mo” Trainor, who is a well-known local

triathlete. Even with all that, the shop has plenty of space. With 9,000 square feet spread over an upstairs and basement, the building was built in the 1950s and was home to an iconic Whatcom County business until it closed in 2007. Fountain Drug & Galleria was a pharmacy upstairs and a toy store in the basement. Many Whatcom County natives remember sitting on Santa’s lap in the toy store when they were kids. “Our kids bought toys in this basement,” Andy Walker said. “The building has a legacy in Whatcom County, and one of our goals with this business is to create our own legacy here. We want to be the place where, in 20 years, the guy who got his first bike here when he was a kid comes in with his child and buys them their first bike.” So far, the first part of that dream has been happening often. “The kids section has been really busy from the day we opened up,” Kowal said. There’s nothing quite like the day you get your first bicycle. With a

background in retail management, Kowal believes there’s no reason adults can’t find that same youthful joy in a bike shop. “People should walk into a bike store and enjoy the experience. Get on a bike and love it. Walk out with a smile on their face. We don’t want people walking out saying, ‘Gosh, I feel stupid because I didn’t know what component group I have’,” Kowal said. Trainor runs spin classes and coaching through her (Train-OrTri triathlon) program in the shop’s spacious basement. The basement also houses repair benches, a space for Bikefit sessions, and free bike repair clinics run by service manager Casey Schlenker. “The idea of the clinics is to get people to the point where they can go out on a ride and not have something that is a relatively simple fix

get them catastrophically stuck five miles from home,” Schlenker said. “We want riding to be fun and accessible.” The owners envision the shop as a community hub and meeting space as well. “Last Saturday, there was a guy in who I actually went to high school with,” Tassie Kowal said. “He and his old riding buddy had both had health issues and hadn’t seen each other in a couple years. They saw each other in here, swapped phone numbers and now they’re getting back out riding together. That’s exactly what we want.” From Jamis and Santa Cruz mountain bikes perfect for trail riding on Galbraith to higher-end road bikes that would do well in Ski to Sea, Bikesport’s selection is tailormade for Bellingham. Even cyclocross athletes will have cross-specif-

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ic bikes to drool over as the season approaches. “Ryan Rickerts puts on a great series in Bellingham,” Cowall said, referring to the Cascade Cross series held in the fall. Tassie described their 12-year-old son’s blossoming cyclocross career. Walker’s sons, 12 and 13, ride trails with their father, although he said they often have to wait for him these days. “Running a business, you don’t get as much time to go bike as you’d like,” Walker said. any of Bikesport’s neighbors have stopped in to say hello, and the owners are loving the neighborhood. Kowal said a near constant stream of bike traffic pedals down Meridian Street in front of the store windows, which brings up another reason Bikesport is likely to succeed: “This town loves its bikes,” he said.

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COASTING WITH THE CURRENTS around the Salish Sea LINKING

Lummi, Clark & Orcas islands

IN A ROUND-TRIP PADDLING ADVENTURE BY TODD ELSWORTH

D

estination: Clark Island. It’s a well-known marine state park that sits off the northeastern coast of Orcas Island in the San Juan Island archipelago. Neighboring the island are The Sisters, a small set of rocks that are part of the National Wildlife Refuge. I’d seen pictures, heard great stories and surprised people when I would remark, “I haven’t been out there, yet.” My planning to do so began months in advance, looking for a window of fair weather, timely tides and a competent paddling companion. More than just reaching the island, I wanted an adventure – an excursion. Not quite an expedition, more like a long day-hike on the Salish Sea with the elusive Clark Island as a key piece in my personal connect-the-dots puzzle. The forecast looked favorable: not too rainy or windy. The tidal currents would move in such a manner that I could cover some considerable distance with Mother Nature’s assistance. Two out of three wasn’t bad. I’d be going solo, but fortunately, I enjoy my own company. 10 A.M. As I prepared to launch from Gooseberry Point I listened to the staccato, computerized voice of the NOAA weather forecast on the handheld VHF radio. “Conditions for Bellingham, 10 a.m., 48 degrees Fahrenheit at the Bellingham airport, mostly cloudy, rain later, highs in the 50s, wind southwest 10 knots.” Good enough for me. Launching from the ferry landing I began paddling out the north end of Hale’s Passage. The current was doing just as The Current Atlas (with Waggoner Tables 2014) predicted, taking me towards the northern tip of Lummi Island and

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PHOTO \ PAUL CONRAD

putting me in position to make the crossing to Clark. When the currents are running underneath you and the wind is at your back, you rock and roll, surfing the waves as they carry you for a bit and then pass you by. When they’re really rockin’ you charge from one wave crest to the next. “Yeehaw!” I exclaimed as the energy flowed from stern to stem underneath my trusted steed, a Delta 17 touring kayak. 11 A.M. Preparing to cross a major shipping channel and enter into the open waters of the Strait of Georgia, I came close to shore for a safety break. As I searched for a convenient (out of the wind) spot to stop, I rounded a small outcrop of rocks and looked to the shoreline. What I saw in front of me was truly amazing. A huge bald eagle was eating a fresh octopus for lunch directly in front of me! I sat still and employed my nature-watching theory: Don’t look at them. This approach seemed to be working as the bird ripped apart the catch of the day a mere 20 feet from me. I pulled my Nikon PHD (Push Here Dummy) camera out of my

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

paddle jacket pocket and captured the ravenous raptor in its element. I relished in this unexpected treasure of raw nature for a short time. The tidal schedule demanded my departure. As I rounded Point Migley a colony of hauled-out seals entered the water with their heads quietly periscoping up and down, keeping a watchful eye on me, the intruder. Looking southeast to my next stop I now had my eyes on the prize. Clark Island dead ahead. I crossed the busy shipping lane and enjoyed the ebb tide working in my favor as I coasted across the southern end of the strait. NOON The skies to the southwest were clearing to display a beautiful blue as I approached the western beach of Clark Island. The view from my lunch spot looked west across to neighboring Barnes Island and to the north I could see Matia and Sucia islands in the distance. The chorus of eagle calls and other flying friends filled the air, echoing through the madrone labyrinths that are interspersed throughout the island.

The picnic areas and campsites were conveniently empty as I gave myself a tour of the grounds. Walking the southeastern beach, I watched the water between the shore and The Sisters swirl and churn as the flood tide prepared to move in. There goes the neighborhood! 2 P.M. “Now what?” I thought. I was out to paddle, not just relax on a sunny beach and practice the art of doing nothing. I was on an adventure and it was only 2 p.m. I mapped out the next six hours, identifying the places that would put me in the best positions to ride the tide. My notes: 4 p.m. – Lawrence Point; 5 p.m. – Rosario Strait; 6 p.m. – Village Point; 7 p.m. – Point Migley; 8 p.m. – Gooseberry. The schedule seemed reasonable. 3 P.M. Traveling to Lawrence Point, the easternmost tip of Orcas Island, from Clark puts you in the shadow of the towering Mt. Constitution (2,454 feet) and offers zero opportunity for respite. Sheer rock cliffs flank this section of the largest island in the San Juans. The calm air and sun reflecting off the water was refreshing after a long windy winter. As I rounded the point I heard strange noises coming from around the bend. They emanated from the two large nostrils of a winded sea lion catching its breath after a dive for an afternoon snack. My heart raced with excitement and anxiety. Did it calculatingly submerge itself to ambush and cash in on me as the bounty for dinner? Seriously, the thought went through my reptilian brain. I froze in place and inhaled deeply as reason called out, “Paddle to safety!” I stormed the beach and

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PHOTO \ TODD ELSWORTH

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scrambled up the rocks for an eagle-eye perspective. The head and long body of the immense creature was visible as it floated by in the clear waters. Big “cow-eyes” looked at me while he continued to forcefully inhale and exhale, replenishing its oxygen supply for the next dive. The head would be the first to go, followed by the increasingly wider trunk as it rolled downward and dove out of sight. 4 P.M. While on Orcas, thousands of white birds were streaming past and landing on the water just to the south. With time on my side and the sights of Peapod Rocks within reach, I chose to extend my journey to learn more. As I approached, a pod of porpoises passed by on both sides of my vessel. Placing my paddle on the deck, I drifted among the birds as they allowed me to join their party and play nature’s paparazzi for a spell. Thanks to my Facebook friends, who later identified them as Bonaparte’s gulls. Spellbound, I stayed for an extended visit. 6 P.M. Instead of taking the easy way home and going with the flow, I decided to head across the open channel to Lummi Rocks. This would put me close to shore in case I needed a pit stop along the final miles towards home. As I crossed the strait, the flood tide was making itself known, complemented by the wind that now seemed to be gaining strength. I reached Village Point a bit behind schedule, but still in time to have things going my way. As I paralleled the northwestern shore of Lummi Island ominous weather was approaching from the south. 8 P.M. To the west a wall of darkness shrouded the potentially beautiful canvas for the sunset. The sun was not providing the light I planned for on my final leg into

Hale’s Passage and back to Gooseberry Point. As I came out of the leeward side of Lane Spit, the wind became a significant factor, creating a force to battle against for the first time all day. The breaking waves crashed onto my foredeck, spilled around my sprayskirt and sprayed into my face. Darkness fell as I intently dug the blades of my paddle into each oncoming wave, keeping my hips loose so the boat would bob and weave through the maelstrom. I couldn’t help mentally rehearsing the worst-case scenario: tip over, lose touch with boat, struggle unsuccessfully to swim into the wind and waves and get carried north to Boundary Bay (it’s actually a body of water, not just a brewery, folks). Game over. 8:30 P.M. I switched to my auxiliary tanks to engage my personal-power reserve. My shoulders were PHOTO \ TODD ELSWORTH sore and my hands were blistered. A gale force wind was now in effect, which according to the Beaufort Scale means “Moderately high waves with breaking crests forming spindrift.” Yup; and the waves were hitting me in the chest and face as I maintained forward momentum under the blanket of dark night. Paddling strong with my head down and breathing deeply like the sea lion, I broke through the wind and waves and reached my final destination. I had landed.

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PHOTO \ TODD ELSWORTH

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PHOTO \ TODD ELSWORTH

As the executive director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse and co-founder of Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at recreationnorthwest.org.

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WHERE to EAT ACME / VAN ZANDT ACME DINER 2045 Valley Highway (Hwy 9) 360/595-0150 acme-diner.com This 50s-style diner’s friendly staff is ready to serve you great home-cooked food; fresh ground hamburgers, daily dinner specials, gluten free meals, pizza, espresso, homemade desserts and Acme ice cream! Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. BLUE MOUNTAIN GRILL 974 Valley Highway (Hwy 9) 360/595-2200 bluemountaingrill.com Fresh, homemade fare, including baked bread and desserts made daily, steaks and burgers. Open for lunch and dinner everyday, and breakfast on weekends. Enjoy a beautiful view of the Twin Sisters. EVERYBODY’S STORE 5465 Potter Road, (off Hwy 9) 360/592-2297 everybodys.com This delightful, eclectic store features a wide array of gourmet meats, specialty cheeses and fine wines, many of which are made locally. Also check out their great selection of clothing, books and artwork.

BELLINGHAM BELLEWOOD ACRES 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden 360/318-7720 bellewoodfarms.com Visit the farm, country store, bistro and distillery for artisan food products and Northwest country gifts. Experience a true “Farm to Table” experience in the bistro and a “Farm to Glass” experience in the distillery. Free tastings daily. BOUNDARY BAY BREWERY & BISTRO 1107 Railroad Avenue 360/647-5593 bbaybrewery.com In business since 1995, catering to locals and out-of-towners alike! Ten house brews on tap paired with a menu of fresh Northwest locally sourced pub food. Family friendly establishment with daily live entertainment. “Save the ales!”

CHUCKANUT BREWERY & KITCHEN 601 W. Holly Street 360/752-3377 chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com Enjoy world-class European style, award-winning lagers and ales and a local-centric menu of fresh American cuisine including woodstone pizzas, burgers, seafood, salads and more. All ages welcome every day starting at 11:30 a.m. KEENAN’S AT THE CHRYSALIS 804 10th Street thechrysalisinn.com 360/392-5510 Featuring a seasonal menu, full bar and terrace bar open for happy hour every day, 3–6 p.m. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner daily with a view of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands from every table in the house! KULSHAN BREWING CO. 2238 James Street 360/389-5348 kulshanbrewery.com Enjoy great beer in a comfortable taproom with a view of the brewery. Bring in your own food or order from onsite food trucks at this neighborhood gem. LORENZO’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT 190 E. Bakerview Road 360/527-3181 lorenzosmexicanrestaurant.com Arouse your taste buds to the best Mexican food around. Offering a variety of house specialties, combination plates and classic Mexican favorites that are sure to excite your family. Locations in Bellingham, Mount Vernon and Sedro Woolley. OBOE CAFÉ 714 Lakeway Drive 360/671-1011 thelakewayinn.com Bellingham’s hidden gem located inside Best Western Plus Lakeway Inn. Home to Bellingham’s best breakfast for the crab benedict. Northwest specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Expansive wine selection and water wall seating. POPPES 360 NEIGHBORHOOD PUB 714 Lakeway Drive 360/671-1011 bellinghamrestaurant.com

Featuring Over 75 Local Artists showcasing “NEW” works of Art Local Food Vendors Nice selection of Perennials, Annuals, Vegetable starts and soil amenities Open Friday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

6900 Mt. Baker Hwy. At Mile Post

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Voted home to Northwest’s Best Cocktail. Enjoy Northwest fare for lunch, dinner, appetizers and dessert. Happy Hour every day; 12 taps, specialty martinis, nightly entertainment. Year-round covered and heated patio with three fire pits. THE GRACE CAFE 1065 E. Sunset Drive 360/650-9298 gracecafepies.com The perfect stop for your morning coffee and pastry or afternoon snack. Muffins, cinnamon rolls, fruit-filled scones, handmade pies, or try a breakfast bagel or deli sandwich. Vegan options available. Dine in or drive thru. WESTSIDE PIZZA 4260 Cordata Parkway, Suite 107 360/756-5055 westsidepizza.com Pizza made with only the best ingredients available, and dough made fresh every day. The perfect place to stop after a long, hungry day of adventuring.

BURLINGTON TRAIN WRECK BAR & GRILL 427 E. Fairhaven Avenue 360/755-0582 trainwreck.com A fun, casual and inviting place to get a beer, wine, cocktail or quick and delicious meal. Serving customers ages 21 and over locally sourced products with a smile and gourmet flair.

CONCRETE ANNIE’S PIZZA STATION 44568 State Route 20 360/853-7227 anniespizzastation.com Family owned pizza restaurant focusing on fresh, homemade, quality Italian fare. Friendly service, helpful information and great food combine for an unforgettable experience.

DEMING

THE NORTH FORK BREWERY AND BEER SHRINE 6186 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-2337 northforkbrewery.com Looking for marriage or a pint of fresh ale and hand-tossed pizza? This pizzeria, brewery, wedding chapel and beer museum is your place! Open to all. Monday-Friday: Dinner, Saturday–Sunday: Lunch and dinner.

EVERSON CAFE 544 302 E. Main Street 360/966-7822 The Hogan family restaurant serves fantastic fare from juicy burgers to tender quality steaks. Open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., 3 p.m. on Sunday. Breakfast served all day. Dessert by Lynden Dutch Bakery. HERB NIEMANN’S STEAK HOUSE RESTAURANT 203 W. Main Street 360/966-2855 eversonsteakhouse.com Nestled in the middle of Everson, serving a mouth-watering array of steaks, Bavarian specialties, seafood and desserts to customers since 1993. Offers atmospheres for adults and families alike, including parties up to 50.

GLACIER CHAIR 9 WOODSTONE PIZZA AND BAR 10459 Mt Baker Highway 360/599-2511 chair9.com The perfect place to enjoy a great family meal or a brew after a day on the mountain. Bands play weekends, and the space offers plenty of dancing room. Try the “Canuck’s Deluxe” pizza, a staff favorite. Open for lunch and dinner. GRAHAM’S RESTAURANT 9989 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-3663 Grab a stool at the legendary bar

and enjoy rotating selections of fine craft beers, ciders and wine. Serving fresh rustic pub fare with fantastic daily specials. MILANO’S RESTAURANT 9990 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-2863 milanorestaurant.us Known for their mouth-watering fresh pasta, succulent seafood, and homemade sauces, food at Milano’s is an authentic “taste of Italy.” The casual atmosphere is perfect for lunch and dinner. Lots of outdoor seating. WAKE-N-BAKERY 6903 Bourne Street 360/599-1658 www.getsconed.com Open daily 7:30 a.m. to 5ish p.m. Serving breakfast burritos, quiche, soup, lunch wraps and freshly baked goods. Savory and sweet gluten-free options. Organic espresso and coffee. Indoor and outdoor seating. Dine in or take out.

MAPLE FALLS MAPLE FUELS Corner of Mt. Baker Highway and Silver Lake Road 360/599-2222 maplefuels.com The deli offers a wide selection of fresh sandwiches. Fuel up on gas, grab a coffee or pick up some groceries and wash your clothes at the laundromat while you’re at it. WiFi.

ORCAS ISLAND ISLAND HOPPIN’ BREWERY 33 Hope Lane 360/376-6079 islandhoppinbrewery.com Brewing great-quality beers using only the best ingredients. Serving locally made goat cheese and crackers, smoked salmon, landjaegers and free peanuts and pretzels. Enjoy a rotating selection of beer in the tasting room.

IL CAFFE RIFUGIO RESTORANTE 5415 Mt. Baker Highway 360/592-2888 ilcafferifugio.com Gourmet full-service menu, serving wine, beer and espresso at reasonable prices. 8 a.m.– 8 p.m. Thursday – Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 15 minutes from Bellingham. New drive up bar. Live music and events. Last stop for WiFi.

Unique wood planter boxes & pots

(360) 599-2890

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

PHOTO \ ERIC PARKER

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


WHERE to STAY BELLINGHAM BEST WESTERN PLUS LAKEWAY INN 714 Lakeway Drive 360/671-1011 thelakewayinn.com Bellingham’s only full-service hotel with 132 spacious guest rooms and suites, two restaurants, lobby café, indoor pool and hot tub, fitness center, and 11,000 square feet of meeting space for weddings, banquets and corporate events. THE CHRYSALIS INN AND SPA 804 10th Street 360/756-1005 thechrysalisinn.com Each of the guest rooms overlooks a spectacular Northwest seascape. Spacious rooms feature fireplace, down comforters, luxury amenities and a two-person bath elegantly set in natural slate. Three distinctive room types offer increasing levels of luxury.

BIRCH BAY TIDE CATCHER 8076 Birch Bay Drive, Birch Bay 360/223-2510 tidecatcher.com Beachfront cabins for rent in beautiful Birch Bay. Bay views, patios with deck chairs and a private beach. Families return to this resort getaway year after year. Come and play on the tide flats of Birch Bay.

GLACIER BLUE T LODGE 10459 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-9944 bluetlodge.com Conveniently located behind Chair 9 Woodstone Pizza and Bar,

this six-room inn is ideal for families or groups. Clean rooms have queen-sized beds, a full bathroom and views of Church Mountain as well as access to a meeting space. THE INN AT MOUNT BAKER 8174 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-1776 theinnatmtbaker.com The Inn at Mount Baker, located just west of Glacier, is an excellent choice for accommodations. A stay includes gourmet European-style breakfast, featherbeds and breathtaking views of Mt. Baker and the Nooksack Valley. MT. BAKER VIEW GUEST HOUSE 6920 Central Avenue 360/599-2155 mtbakerviewguesthouse.com The Guest House in downtown Glacier sleeps six; two bedrooms, hot tub, kitchen and games. Cascade Retreat in Snowline sleeps 15; four bedrooms, plus extra room with fold out, sauna and hot tub. Never raise rates for holidays and no cleaning fees. SNOWATER 10500 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-2724 snowater.org Snowater is a 20-acre condominium community bordered by the Nooksack River. Featuring indoor heated pools, hot tubs, racketball courts, ping-pong, pool tables, WiFi, barbeque areas, tennis courts, sports courts, a log cabin and walking trails.

bakeraccomodations.com Baker Accommodations offers cabins and condos in the resort developments of Snowater, Snowline and Mt. Baker Rim, conveniently located just east of Glacier. MT. BAKER LODGING
 7463 Mt. Baker Highway
 360/599-2453 or 800/709-7669
 mtbakerlodging.com

Mt. Baker Lodging offers cabins, condos, chalets and executive rental home
accommodations. A number of selected units are pet friendly. Walk-in reservations and one-night stays available.

WINTHROP CHEWUCH INN 223 White Avenue

800/747-3107 chewuchinn.com Guest rooms for romantic getaways, seasonal travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. The relaxed atmosphere of a B&B with the privacy of a hotel. Centrally located for an abundance of outdoor adventures in the surrounding wilderness areas.

get your

ZIPon for Serious FUN!

Platform to platform, above the trees, lake & wetlands! Free transportation from Friday Harbor

360-378-5947 • www.zipsanjuan.com

MAPLE FALLS Corner of Guide & Pole Road • Lynden

BAKER ACCOMMODATIONS 7425 Mt. Baker Highway 360/599-2999 or 888/695-7533

www.ChadChambersAutos.com

360-392-8703

Offering a huge selection of quality pre-loved used vehicles including cars, trucks & SUVs.

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See our entire inventory online at: ChadChambersAutos.com Ad expires two weeks from publication date. VINs posted at dealership. All vehicles one only. Prices exclude sales tax, license and documentary fee of up to $150.

SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

41


EVENTS

Find more events and submit your own at mountbakerexperience.com

MAY LUMMI ISLAND ART STUDIO TOUR: May 24-25, Lummi Island. Explore an array of beautiful local artworks. Info: Search Lummi Island Studio Tour on Facebook. SKI TO SEA: May 25, Bellingham. Celebrate the 103rd year of the Northwest’s iconic multisport ad-

venture race. Cheer on the racers at the finish line festival in Fairhaven. Info: skitosea.com BLAZING PADDLES FILM FESTIVAL: May 29, Lynnwood. May 30, Mount Vernon. Catch incredible whitewater action on film. Info: Paddle4ever.com/blazingpaddles FREE PADDLEBOARD DEMOS: May 31, Bellingham. Demo

Blazing Blazing Paddles Paddles a Paddling Film Festival

May 29th • 7 PM Black Box Theatre Lynnwood • Tickets $18 at Brown Paper Tickets

May 30th • 7 PM

Lincoln Theatre Mount Vernon • Tickets $15 (at the door only)

Brought to you by Paddle4Ever & Washington Water Trails www.paddle4ever.com/BlazingPaddles

It’s WET. It’s WILD. Get IN on the ACTION!

paddleboards for free from Kite Paddle Surf. Info: bellinghamkiteboarding.com

JUNE MOUNT BAKER WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL: June 7-8, 13-14, 21-22, 28-29, Maple Falls. Incredible musicians from around the world share live music, with proceeds helping the foothills communities. Info: mountbakerworldmusic.com ANACORTES WATERFRONT FESTIVAL: June 7-8, arts and crafts, family events, great food and more. Info: anacortes.org WINTHROP TRAVERSE: June 14, Winthrop. Multi-sport race celebrating the lifecycle of salmon. Go solo or relay with friends, and check out the other races in the Northwest Traverse Series. Info: reacreationnorthwest.org NATIONAL GET OUTDOORS DAY FREE DAY: June 14, Washington state. Entry into Washington State Parks is free. No Discover Pass is required. Info: discoverpass.wa.gov

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 11:00am. $30 registration and Free shirt while supplies last

Free KIDS DASH before the race. All kids get a prize.

FS Family Nudist Park on Tiger Mountain. 425-392-NUDE(6833) bbfr@fraternitysnoqualmie.com Register today at: fraternitysnoqualmie.com/BBFR.html

LUMMI STOMMISH WATER FESTIVAL: June 19-22, Lummi Island. Multi-cultural Coast Salish gathering with carnival, barbeque, concerts and more. Info: stommish. com FREE PADDLEBOARD DEMOS: June 14, 21, 28, Bellingham. Demo paddleboards for free from Kite Paddle Surf. Info: bellinghamkiteboarding.com DEMING LOGGING SHOW: June 1415, Deming. See world champion loggers compete in 31 events and perform incredible feats of woodsmanship. Breakfast and BBQ. Info: demingloggingshow.com BELLINGHAM FETE AND CAR SHOW: June 15, Bellingham. A fête is an elaborate village festival, and this one will have a car show, live music and much more to support Whatcom Hospice. Info: facebook. com/bellinghamfeteandcarshow

PHOTO \ ERIC MICKELSON

PHOTO \ ERIC MICKELSON

42

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

KULSHAN QUEST ADVENTURE RACE: June 21, Fairhaven. Mountain bike, kayak and trek your way across local trails and waterways. The best route is up to you and your teammates. Six- and 12-hour races. Info: recreationnorthwest.org BELLINGHAM KIDS TRAVERSE: June 29, Bellingham. The multisport adventure race for kids. Go solo or relay with friends. Info: recreationnorthwest.com

JULY STEVESTON SALMON FESTIVAL: July 1, Steveston. Parade, craft fair, trade show, children’s festival, Youth Rock Fest and more. Info: stevestonsalmonfest.ca MEC PADDLEFEST: July 5, Vancouver. Paddling festival with demos, clinics and exhibits for kayaking and other water sports. Info: events. mec.ca MOUNT BAKER WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL: July 6, Maple Falls. Northwestern musicians share live music, with proceeds helping the foothills communities. Info: mountbakerworldmusic.com SKAGIT COUNTY FAIR: August 6–9, Mount Vernon. Carnival and rides, live music, car show, and kids’ zone. Info: skagitcounty.net/fair

ment and kids zone. Info: whiterockfestival.ca DRAYTON HARBOR DAYS: August 2–3, Blaine. The festival features an array of boats, a 5k run, live music, arts and crafts booths, tours on the historic Plover ferry. The tall ships Lady Washington and The Hawaiian Chieftain will be available for tours and battle sails. SUBDUED STRINGBAND JAMBOREE: August 7-9, Deming. Bluegrass, folk and other acoustic performers in a laid-back festival. Info: stringbandjamboree.com SUMMER MELTDOWN MUSIC FESTIVAL: August 7-10, Darrington. From the Pimps of Joytime to Zion I, the eclectic lineup of the 14th Summer Meltdown has something for everyone. Info: summermeltdownfest.com

DOE BAY FEST: August 7–11, Orcas Island. Doe Bay Resort and Retreat’s festival features musicians, local cuisine, camping and more. Info: doebay.com

INTERNATIONAL SEA AND SKY FESTIVAL: August 9, Birch Bay. Learn to make a kite, paddleboard and kayak with the whole family. Info: birchbaychamber.com

FREE PADDLEBOARD DEMOS: July 12, 19, 26, Bellingham. Demo paddleboards for free from Kite Paddle Surf. Info: bellinghamkiteboarding.com

NORTHWEST WASHINGTON FAIR: August 11-16, Lynden. The Northwest’s classic fair with demolition derby, rodeo and big live music acts. Info: nwwafair.com

BARE BUNS FUN RUN WEST: July 13, Issaquah. Clothing optional fun run at FS Family Nudist Park on Tiger Mountain. Info: fraternitysnoqualmie.com/bbfr

ABBOTSFORD INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW: August 8-10, Abbotsford. Daring feats of aviation on display. Info: abbotsfordairshow. com

WHATCOM WINE AND SPIRITS FESTIVAL: July 20, Bellingham. Taste local wines and support the Food and Farming program. Info: sustainableconnections.org/events.

MUDS TO SUDS: August 16-17, Ferndale. Get muddy with your buddies on an epic obstacle course, with a post-race BBQ and beer garden. Info: mudstosuds.com

TIMBER! OUTDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL: July 24-26, Carnation. Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires and J Mascis headline this talent-packed festival. Info: timbermusicfest.com

FREE PADDLEBOARD DEMOS: August 9, 16, 23, Bellingham. Demo paddleboards for free from Kite Paddle Surf. Info: bellinghamkiteboarding.com

OLYMPIA TRAVERSE: July 26, Olympia. Multi-sport race celebrating the lifecycle of salmon. Go solo or relay with friends, and check out the other races in the Northwest Traverse Series. Info: recreationnorthwest.org

AUGUST MOUNT BAKER RHYTHM AND BLUES FESTIVAL: August 1-3, Deming. Ten Years After, The Chris Eger Band, Scott Holt and many more. Info: bakerblues.com WHITE ROCK SEA FESTIVAL: August 1–4, parade, market, entertain-

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE BIRTHDAY FREE DAY: August 25: Washington state. Entry into Washington State Parks is free. No Discover Pass is required. Info: discoverpass. wa.gov LUMMI ISLAND ART STUDIO TOUR: August 30-31, Lummi Island. Explore an amazing array of beautiful local artworks. Info: search Lummi Island Studio Tour on Facebook.

SEPTEMBER NORTH BEND TRAVERSE: September 6, North Bend. Multi-sport race. Info: recreationnorthwest.org

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


PHOTO \ AUBREY LAURENCE

Lummi Island Artists'

H

Studio Tour 2014

alfway between hiking and rock climbing, there’s scrambling. Many of the spectacular summits in the North Cascades and Coast Mountains can be climbed without ropes. The terrain may be challenging and dangerous, but the rewards are great. Here’s how to get to contributor Aubrey Laurence’s favorite scrambles. Read his full story on page 14.

to stay on Quarry Road a total of 2 miles (3.2 km). Turn left onto Mountain Loop Highway and drive for 40 miles (64.4 km), then turn right onto Forest Road 2095. Drive 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the trailhead. A Northwest Forest Pass is required. Drive time from Bellingham to the trailhead: 2.5-3 hours

MT. MACFARLANE

Elevation: 7,451 feet (2,271 m) Route: Southeast, Class 3-4 Round-trip distance: Approximately 12 miles (19 km) Total elevation gain: 5,000 feet (1,524 m) Directions to trailhead: From I-5, take exit 255 to SR 542E (Mt. Baker Highway). Stay on 542 for 46 miles (74 km). Turn left onto FR 3065/Twin Lakes Road, 13 miles (20.1 km) east of the Glacier Public Service Center. Veer left at the first fork. Continue 4.5 miles (7.2 km) to the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead at a tight switchback with a privy. A Northwest Forest Pass is required. Drive time from Bellingham to the trailhead: 1.5 hours

Elevation: 6,889 feet (2,100 m) Route: Pierce Lake, Class 2-3 Round-trip distance: 13 miles (21 km) Total elevation gain: Estimated 6,300 feet (1,900 m), including gains and losses Directions to trailhead: From Sumas, take the Trans-Canada Highway 1 east to Chilliwack. Take exit 119A, go south on Vedder Road for 3.4 miles (5.4 km), and turn left onto Chilliwack Lake Road right before the Vedder Bridge. On a long stretch of straight road after passing the fish hatchery and driving up a steep hill, about 14 miles (21 km) from the Vedder Bridge, look for a turnoff on the right with a sign for Pierce Creek Trail. Turn here and drive in a few hundred meters to the parking area. Drive time from Bellingham to the trailhead: About two hours (including a border crossing in Sumas)

MT. PUGH Elevation: 7,201 feet (2,195 m) Route: Mt. Pugh Trail, Class 3 Total elevation gain: 5,300 feet (1,615 m) Round-trip distance: 11+ miles (17+ km) Directions to trailhead: Note: State Route 530, the traditional route to Mt. Pugh through Darrington, has been closed indefinitely due to the tragic Oso landslide. These directions use an alternate route. From I-5, take exit 199 for WA-528 E towards Marysville/Tulalip. Turn left onto WA-528 E and drive east for 3.5 miles (5.6 km). Turn left onto WA-9 N and drive for 1.3 miles (2.1 km). Turn right onto 84th Street NE and drive for 4.7 miles (7.6 km). Turn left onto WA-92 E and drive for 1.2 miles (1.9 km). At the traffic circle, take the second exit onto Quarry Road, and continue straight through the next two traffic circles

TOMYHOI PEAK

narrow in the dense woods, but it eventually opens up to an old road, which switchbacks up the slope. About where this road fades and trees open up a bit, head up and left, and find a bushy, overgrown trail that leads through a forest to the ridge. Navigating here can be confusing, so it’s best to consult multiple guidebooks, topographic maps and online route descriptions before attempting the journey. It is roughly 6 miles (10 km) or so from the gated bridge to the ridge. Drive time from Bellingham to the gated bridge: 45 minutes to 1 hour.

x

May 24 & 25 • Aug. 30 & 31 • 10am to 6pm Nov. 8 & 9 • 10am to 5pm 35+ Artists at 20 locations!

Paintings, drawings, prints, pottery, jewelry, photography, sculpture, woodwork, notecards, glass, metalwork, stonework, quilts, clothing, knitwear, and more! I-5, exit 260, west on Slater, left on Haxton to ferry dock, 8 min ferry ride leaves at ten past every hour. $13/car & driver, $7/person, $7/bicycle & rider (round trip). Accompanied children under 12 free!

360-758-7121 • 360-758-2815 visit Lummi Island Studio Tour on Facebook Balloons mark each location!

Maps available at Islander Store

NORTH TWIN SISTER Elevation: 6,570 feet (2,002 m) Route: West Ridge, Class 4 Total elevation gain: Approximately 5,500 feet (1,676 m) Round-trip distance: Estimated 15 miles (24 km) Directions to trailhead: From I-5, take exit 255 to SR542 E. Stay on 542 for 16.7 miles (26.9 km) and turn right onto Mosquito Lake Road. Drive almost 5 miles (8 km) on Mosquito Lake Road, and then turn left onto Middle Fork Road (aka Forest Road 38). Follow Middle Fork Road for almost 5 miles (8 km), and turn right (going downhill) at the fork. Park near the gated bridge. Begin your hike (or bike) up the logging road. Follow the main logging road for a few miles (4-5 km) to the first main fork in the road, and go right. Ascend through the large clear-cut, cross a bridge over a stream and then take the next fork to the left. Continue on the main road and try not to be lured by spurs. After the road levels and begins to descend slightly, start looking for a path on the left. You might see a log and a cairn at this spot. Take this trail. It’s

X

Mount Baker

e perience magazine

SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

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Blanchard Mountain

PARAGLIDING STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD ANDREW

A

s children we all dreamed of being able to fly. We imagined that somehow we would walk to the edge of a cliff, pause momentarily to take in the view and jump off. We would spread our arms as if they were wings and suddenly soar skyward, entering the realm where only birds were meant to go. Inevitably, as time passed and we grew older we began to dream a little less and focus more on reality. We gave up the absurd dream of flying; after all, humans weren’t meant to fly. The dream of flight we all had as kids isn’t so absurd after all. In fact, it’s easier than you might think. The sport of paragliding was born through a prediction made in 1954 by British author Walter Neumark, who believed that due to recent advancements in parachute design, a parachutist would one day be able to go airborne by running over the edge of a cliff or down a slope. This prediction fueled innovation, and the design of the parachute evolved into a sectioned cellular structure shaped like a wing. The cellular structure allowed air to flow in through an open leading edge and into a closed trailing edge, filling the canopy with air to make it semi-rigid and subsequently create lift. This new design, known as the ram-air, allowed parachutists to be towed into flight down a slope. In 1974 a group of three French men in Mieussy, France took the first unassisted self-powered flight, and with that flight the sport of paragliding was born. Since its inception, the sport has grown rapidly, with pilots taking flight at locations worldwide. One of those locations is a stone’s throw away from Bellingham. As you step out of your vehicle at the parking area nestled into the west face of Blanchard Mountain, the first thing you’ll notice is the beauty of the area that surrounds you. The Samish Overlook is perched above a sheer rock ledge that stands some 1,258 feet above the chilly waters of Samish Bay. The views on a sunny day give you a magnificent vantage point to look west over the sparkling waters of the Salish Sea to the islands of the San Juan archipelago, and to the south over the ever-changing postagestamp farms of northern Skagit Valley. After taking in the views and walking down from the parking lot towards the clearing of the overlook, one thing becomes clear: 1,258 feet is a long way down. But why look down when you can look up? Above you, eagles and hawks soar in the rising thermals created by the warm air rushing upwards off the farmlands of Bow. These thermals allow the resident

44

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

birds of prey to effortlessly soar for hours on end. These same thermals make Blanchard Mountain a go-to spot for paragliders around the Northwest. When paired with the right winds, the thermals support flights that last for hours on end. According to Scott Stabbert, president of the Northwest Paragliding Association, winds blowing from the south or west at 8-10 mph are the ideal conditions for taking flight at Blanchard. These winds blow straight into the face of the launch areas, filling canopies with ease. Once their canopy is filled, pilots take those few fateful steps down the launch area and part ways with the earth below. They are flying, and suddenly the ground completely falls away to Samish Bay some 1,200 feet down. Stabbert says Blanchard is best for flying during the spring and fall when the air is unstable, and thermals can carry you thousands of feet above the mountain. As pilots rise in the thermals, the view above Blanchard opens to the north and east with unobstructed views of Mt. Baker. Skilled pilots can hop from thermal to thermal, soaring up one thermal column and targeting another on the glide down before riding the new thermal skywards. This is known as cross-country flying, and many pilots believe this is human flight in its purest form. Whether it lasts 30 minutes or three hours, every flight must come to an end. Paragliders at Blanchard Mountain land in a designated area on the valley floor just north of Bow. From there they can be shuttled back to the overlook to do it all over again in a matter of minutes, allowing for multiple flights in a day. This is helpful for newer pilots looking to hone their takeoff, flight and landing skills through repetition. If you want to take a shot at the sport of paragliding, there are only a few hurdles to get over. First you will need to decide if it’s something that suits you. A good way to do this is take a tandem-assisted flight. Northwest Sky Sports offers tandem flights at Blanchard. The instructor will teach you some paragliding basics and even let you take the controls for a moment. If you fall in love with flying, which you probably will, you’ll need to acquire some equipment. Paragliding requires two main pieces of equipment: a wing and a harness. The wing, also known as a canopy, is what allows the pilot to capture the air and take flight. This is going to be your biggest

investment. A high-end wing will likely set you back $3,5004,500 with good used ones available for around $2,000. The wing is attached to a harness, a lounge-like seat that supports the pilot’s weight during flight. The harness is attached to the wing via suspension lines. A harness will run in the ballpark of $500. You will also likely want to invest in a reserve parachute for insurance in case of a mid-flight emergency, and a nice two-way radio for communication with other pilots while in flight. One other useful piece of equipment is a variometer, a device that measures the rate of climb or descent. A variometer allows pilots to target the core of a thermal to maximize altitude gain and flight time. Once you have gathered all the necessary equipment it’s time to seek out instruction and get informed. Stabbert says to plan on spending around $1,800 for a school that will provide you instruction as long as you like. “You can pay less for an instruction package that will only get you up to a certain rating, but long-term training and education is worth it,” he said. The training is necessary as the USHPA (United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association) rates pilots based on skill level with five levels of certification. The rankings go from P1 (beginner) to P5 (master). Blanchard is rated for pilots at a P2+ rating, which means they have completed at least 25 flights along with demonstrated ability to manage all stages of flight as well as passing a written exam. With the right equipment and training, your childhood dream of flying can become a reality, and with a prime spot to fly right in your backyard, nothing is stopping you. The next time you catch yourself gazing up at birds elegantly soaring through a beautiful sky, just remember – it is possible. You can fly.

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MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


GETTING TO BLANCHARD MOUNTAIN:

Take I-5 exit #240. Head west on Lake Samish Road for approximately .5 miles. Take the first left onto Barrel Springs Road. After approximately .6 miles, turn right onto the gravel Blanchard Hill Road. On the gravel road you will pass by trailhead parking for Lizard and Lily lakes. After approximately 1.6 miles, turn left. (T intersection) There is an old, rusty-looking barrel gate, swung back on this road. We’ve never seen it closed. Go approximately 2.2 more miles to the end of the road.

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45


A taste of Bellingham’s

NEW BREWS STORY AND PHOTO BY AUBREY LAURENCE

Family owned and operated

SINCE 1947

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“Traditional Service Meeting Modern Needs.”

I

t’s a great time to be a craft beer lover in Bellingham, as this city continues to spawn new breweries. If you haven’t had a chance to try beers from Bellingham’s two newest breweries, Aslan Brewing Co. and Wander Brewing Co.; here is a taste of their delicious offerings.

ASLAN BREWING CO.

1330 N. Forest Street, Bellingham aslanbrewing.com Brewhouse size: 15 barrels Number of beer taps: 16 (plus four more for sodas, etc.) Food: On-site restaurant with a variety of menu items, including many vegetarian options. Aslan Brewing owner Jack Lamb, head brewer Frank Trosset and general manager Pat Haynes all met while living in Bellingham, and since September 2012 they have been tirelessly planning and building Aslan Brewing from the ground up. Construction on the brewery’s restaurant and taproom took longer than expected, but Aslan brews have been on tap around town since April. In a market filled with unexciting brown ales, Aslan’s Organic Bellingham Brown breathes new life into the style. This beer appeals to beer novices and beer geeks alike, as it is full of flavor yet easy to drink. Wholesome notes of chocolate, crackers and nuts keep your interest piqued, and its smooth bitterness resets your palate after every sip. For something uniquely delicious and refreshing, try Aslan’s Organic Ginger Rye Ale, which is made with freshly grated ginger roots, lime

rinds, honey and Cascade and Citra hops. Organic Irie Eyes Red Ale has a sweet nose, a smooth 7.5-percent alcohol by volume (ABV), a solid malt backbone with hints of bread crust and toffee, and a citrusy hop bite in the finish. Organic Flagship IPA is light golden in color, crisp on the palate and dangerously easy to drink. “At 6.5 percent ABV,” Lamb said, “it’s not really a ‘session’ beer, but it is highly sessionable.” Just before opening the brewery, the brewers tweaked the recipe slightly by adding Simcoe hops into the whirlpool, which imbues the beer with bright hop flavors and aromas of pine. Also try Aslan’s Oatmeal Pale Ale, Rye Lager and Pilsner, as well as a slew of other beer styles and seasonal brews to come.

WANDER BREWING CO.

1807 Dean Avenue, Bellingham wanderbrewing.com Brewhouse size: 20 barrels Number of beer taps: 10 (plus one for cider and one for root beer) Food: Food trucks, delivery or BYO. After globetrotting, soul searching, lots of home brewing, intensive schooling and a couple of years of real-world brewing experience, Chad and Colleen Kuehl decided to open Wander Brewing Co. in Bellingham. “After multiple visits to Bellingham, we fell in love with the town and its surrounding landscape,” Chad says. “We really enjoy the deep sense of community here, and we love the city’s access to the mountains and the sea.” Head to Wander’s brew hall to try one of the brewery’s many unique beers, such as the Washington Un-

common California Common, which is a style rarely brewed in this state. The California common hybrid style is made with lager yeast, but unlike most lagers, it’s fermented at warmer ale temperatures. Wander’s uncommon common is smooth, relatively low in alcohol (5.5 percent ABV) and very approachable, and it features delectable malt flavors of toasted bread and grains, with a clean bitterness from Northern Brewer hops. Don’t pass up the delicious Wanderale Belgian Blonde, which you’ll swear contains spices, but it doesn’t. “We don’t use any spices or adjuncts in this beer,” Chad explained. “The Abbey Ale yeast strain we use gives it flavors and aromas of banana and bubble gum.” The trio of malts, hops and yeast esters culminate in a rounded and flavorful brew that sings with complexity, yet it’s extremely easy to quaff. For the hopheads, there’s Shoe Toss Rye IPA, which has a solid malt backbone highlighted by spicy and drying notes of rye. Shoe Toss is brewed with the Falconer’s Flight 7 Cs hop blend, which provides the beer with a balanced bitterness and some fantastic hop aromas, and the addition of dryhopped Ahtanum whole-cone hops take the aromas up to 11. Belling-Hammer Wee Heavy is a strong Scotch ale that has deep malt flavors of toffee and multi-grain bread. “We give this one a 90-minute boil (as opposed to the more common 60-minute boil) to give it that rich caramel flavor,” Chad said. “We also brew it so that it has a nice amount of residual sweetness.” Beer lovers can also look forward in the future to trying Wander’s Correspondent Foreign Extra Stout, Baltic Porter, Belgian Dubbel and so much more. Both breweries plan to barrel-age some of their bigger beers.

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47


BEHIND THE LENS with eric parker

“The photo is of Isaac Levinson on the Ashlu River. The Ashlu is one of the best rivers in the world, and it’s conveniently located just outside of Squamish, B.C. This double drop rapid is probably the best on the run!”

-Eric Parker, photographer 48

MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE | SUMMER 2014

MOUNTBAKEREXPERIENCE.COM


World music in

Your east county and foothills specialist!

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STORY AND PHOTO BY BRANDY SHREVE

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SERVICE you can count on… RELATIONSHIPS you can TRUST

usicians from across the world are making their way to Mt. Baker this summer to take part in the second annual Mount Baker World Music Festival, and organizer Samir Hassan is hoping that the eclectic mix of artists will draw people to the mountain and bring people together in a new way. “Music is the big unifier,” Hassan said. “If you can feel music from all over the world and enjoy it, you can feel and enjoy people from all over the world.” Over the course of four weeks, Hassan’s festival will bring in eight performers, some of who have been nominated for and won Latin Grammys. Performers include the Jovino Santos Neto Trio, Niyaz, Steve Kindler and Irish band Crumac. “This would be a great lineup in Seattle or even New York, but they’re coming to Maple Falls,” Hassan said. “We’re looking forward to bringing music to the mountain.” Hassan said a salsa teacher from Bellingham will be making an appearance during the event and attendees will have the opportunity to learn to dance. “We’re going to get everyone out on the dance floor, just like last year,” he said. “Even the kids were out learn-

ing how to salsa.” This year the festival is going even further and is on a quest to help out the micro-communities of the area through music. Hassan said ticket buyers can purchase an extra ticket in his name, and those extra tickets will go to families in the area so that they can attend the show. Twenty percent of proceeds from every show will also go to the community. “It’s a good thing to help them,” he said. “Eighty-six percent of the kids from that area are on free or reduced lunch, so we are working with the food bank, the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center and Kendall Elementary School to give out complimentary tickets.” He is also arranging a music workshop for Kendall Elementary School children that will be provided by the Iranian/Turkish group Niyaz. Donations to support the workshop are welcome. Concerts will be held at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center in Kendall and tickets are $15 for each show. For more information about tickets and dates, visit mountbakerworldmusicfestival.com.

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WE NEED VACATION HOMES! Glacier and Maple Falls homeowners: are you looking for ways to off-set the debt service on your 2nd home? Consider placing your vacation property in the Mt. Baker Lodging vacation rental program.

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Mt. Baker Lodging offers a full-service “turn-key” program that combines extensive marketing with reservation procurement and professional housekeeping services, providing you with hassle-free rental income that assists in reducing the debt service associated with owning and maintaining a second home. Our Clients enjoy peace-of-mind while working with the Mt. Baker area’s oldest, largest and most established vacation rental agency. Mt. Baker Lodging provides friendly and knowledgeable personnel in a fully staffed local area office, utilizing a direct hands-on approach to managing the properties that we represent. Our Clients also have the flexibility of utilizing their homes for personal use between rental occasions. It’s a win/win!

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360-599-2200 www.mmragent.com SUMMER 2014 | MOUNT BAKER EXPERIENCE

49


BY AUBREY LAURENCE

WHAT’S THAT CLIMB RATED?

The Yosemite Decimal System explained

T

he most commonly used hiking, climbing and scrambling rating system in America is the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS). Ratings and routes can be somewhat subjective, but they give hikers and climbers a good idea of a route’s difficulty. A route’s rating is based on its most difficult move, or “crux.” Generally speaking, exposure (danger and severity of a fall) increases with the class rating, but many argue that the amount of exposure on a route has little or nothing to do with its class rating. Some class 1 trails are very exposed, for example, and some class 3 moves might be just a few feet above level ground. CLASS 1: Easy hiking, generally on a trail. Hands are rarely needed, if ever. CLASS 2: Rough hiking that may or may not require the use of hands for balance.

Now Serving

PHOTO \ JASON HUMMEL

CLASS 3: Scrambling on rock using hands and feet. Handholds are necessary, but they are relatively easy to find. Some climbing techniques may be needed, such as mantling, frictioning and counterforcing. CLASS 4: Scrambling or climbing on steep rock where rock climbing techniques and counterforce measures such as stemming, liebacking and finger/hand jamming are often employed. Handholds may take time to find. A rope is sometimes used, especially for rappelling back down. CLASS 5: Steep and challenging free climbing where a rope is almost always used for protection against a serious fall (free solo climbing is done without a rope). Fifth-class climbing is further defined based on difficulty, from 5.0 to 5.15 with “a” to “d” suffixes above the 5.9 mark.

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New Office in Maple Falls at 7425 Mt. Baker Hwy. 1.888.695.7533 BakerAccommodations.com

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mountain mountaintime, time, beach beachtime, time, family familytime time H H C C I I R R B B R R E E K K BABA BABYAY

Connect Connect with with nature, nature, connect connect with with yourself yourself asas you you hike, hike, ski,ski, climb, climb, slide, slide, and and relax relax your your way way into into memories memories you you and and your your family family will will treasure treasure forfor years years to to come. come.

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| MOUNT || MOUNT SPRING SUMMER SPRING 20142014 2014 MOUNT BAKER BAKER BAKER EXPERIENCE EXPERIENCE EXPERIENCE 41

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Mount Baker Experience • Summer 2014